RCAF To Relocate 10 KR Tanks to Battambang

Ten tanks formerly used by Khmer Rouge fighters will be relocated to Battambang prov­ince later this month, following a decision made at the RCAF meeting on Monday in Phnom Penh.

Infantry commanders and Pailin officials insisted the move was part of a reform plan and had nothing to do with the signing of a Khmer Rouge trial law last Friday by King Norodom Sihanouk.

“The tanks are old and we need to repair them for the country’s protection in the future,” said Gen­eral Chea Saran, deputy commander of the RCAF infantry.

Infantry tanks throughout the country are being sent from bri­gade headquarters to a base in one of six regional areas. Pailin’s tanks are being sent from Brigade 22 to a base in Military Re­gion 5.

The tanks have fallen into disrepair, Chea Saran said.

With the country at peace, the tanks can be taken to locations where they can be more easily repaired, he said.

“Two months ago we took three tanks from Anlong Veng district in Oddar Meanchey prov­ince and another three at Sam­raong district will be taken as well,” Chea Saran said.

Some officials have warned that efforts to try either common Khmer Rouge soldiers or top officials like Ieng Sary could lead to unrest in Pailin and other former Khmer Rouge strongholds.

Authorities dismissed speculation Thursday that the tanks were being taken from Pailin to prevent unrest, or as a pretext for it.

“We are not worried that the tanks will be taken from Pailin,” said Ieng Vuth, deputy governor of Pailin.

Pailin Cabinet Chief Mey Mann said the Pailin brigade base had 13 tanks, but three are unusable.

The rest, he said, “are old and drive slower than an ox cart.”

Pailin officials had asked for funds to build a shelter for the tanks, which are left outside all day, he said.



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