RCAF Claims Capture of KR Tanks, Contested Border Zone

Top security officials on Tues­day claimed that government troops have captured the Khmer Rouge’s last two tanks, north of Anlong Veng.

Meas Sophea, the RCAF de­puty chief of staff commanding government troops against the guerrillas, said the tanks were captured on Monday when an orchestrated push by defected rebels and RCAF troops forced the guerrillas out of the “Choam” zone.

“They have all withdrawn and fled far away from Anlong Veng since the RCAF soldiers sealed off the Choam zone,” Meas So­phea said, referring to an area in the Dangrek Mountains nestled against the Thai border about 12 km north of Anlong Veng village. “All of Anlong Veng is now in the possession of RCAF soldiers.”

Neang Phat, director of information for the Ministry of De­fense, confirmed that the tanks had been captured and said the rebels have been pushed farther up into the area of Sa Ngam Pass, on the border of Thailand, where he claimed they are regrouping with “allies.”

The tank-mounted 120mm guns are believed to be the guerrillas’ heaviest artillery.

Meas Sophea said fighting slackened Tuesday after the heavy fighting on Monday.

The Khmer-language Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper Tues­day quoted Chea Mon, commander of Siem Reap-based Military Region 4, as saying the government had captured the clandestine Khmer Rouge radio in Mon­day’s push.

But the mobile radio transmitter continued to broadcast Tues­day, with announcers alleging that 16 government soldiers were killed by land mines during fighting on Saturday.

The claim could not be independently confirmed.

Meas Sophea said the automobile-mounted KR radio always retreats when attacking government soldiers near its position.

The three-star CPP-appointed general said the radio has been moved west of Anlong Veng along the border, to a position he referred to as “Ta Tum camp.”

The rebel radio announcer on Monday ridiculed the government’s attempts to penetrate the thick jungles, saying RCAF troops don’t know the lay of the land.

“They look like blind men plunging into mine fields, spike fields of people and resistance forces,” the radio announcer said.

At least 30 newly injured RCAF soldiers were transported to Siem Reap Military Hospital last week.

Meanwhile, Ko Chean, commander of the Battambang-based Military Region 5, said Tuesday that 30 soldiers loyal to deposed first prime minister Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh defected to government forces.

The soldiers, formerly under the command of top resistance general Nhiek Bun Chhay, changed sides in the Thma Puok district of northwestern Banteay Meanchey province, Ko Chean said.

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