5 Year Anniversary: 1993-1998

Khmer Rouge

Terror Strikes Village at Midnight,
Bringing Fear, Destruction

KAMPONG PREANG, Battambang Province - Most of the residents of this village 12 km south of Battambang city on Route Five were fast asleep when Khmer Rouge guerrillas attacked at midnight on Feb 13.
March 2,
But they woke with a start as rebels fired AK-47 rounds into the air, alerting the terrified villagers to the fact that they were there.

Gian Naron, 50, was perhaps more nervous than the others. A former soldier for both the pre-1970 government and the Lon Nol regime, the Khmer Rouge had wanted to execute him in 1977. Now, as a relatively prosperous villager with six cattle, a rice field and the money to build a new tin-roof house for his family, he was again "the enemy."

He was prepared, though, having dug two bunkers 5 meters deep, in which he and his wife, children and grandchildren spend every night.

The bunker worked. He and his family escaped the attack, although bullets were fired at his home and nearly all of his family’s belongings were stolen; the rest were burned.

At the time Gian Naron’s home was burned, the Khmer Rouge were nearly finished with their operation for the night.

They had already ransacked the police station and the homes of village leaders, although they had been unable to find the officials they were looking for.

"During these attacks, many of the men, especially those with leadership positions, often flee into the rice fields along with some of the children and leave the women to plead with the Khmer Rouge not to destroy their property," said one aid worker familiar with many of the scores of Khmer Rouge attacks on villages over the past two months.

Into the rice fields is where Ghong Niet, a 43-year-old widow, sent the youngest of her seven children when the attack began.

"They came to the front of my home yelling, ‘We want to speak to the owner of the house!’ " she said.

"I was scared so I didn’t say anything and hid. Then they set my house on fire. When they left, I ran with buckets to get water and put the fire out," she said.

Most other villagers along the UN-built side road near Route 5 had similar stories, but across the main road, where the village wat, school and clinic are located, the Khmer Rouge were very selective.

The clinic and a part of the school were destroyed. The school building, one of three, and the only one built with foreign money, was burned to the ground. The clinic, also built with foreign aid, was smashed to pieces. A wat only a few meters away was undisturbed.

Aid workers say the Khmer Rouge, since they began attacking villages earlier this year, have begun to specifically target foreign-aid projects for destruction.

By Matthew Lee

 Over 20 Killed in Rebel Slaughter in Siem Reap

Khmer Rouge guerrillas in Siem Reap province have slaughtered over 20 villagers—apparently without provocation— Cambodian officials reported yesterday. Officials also described a separate mass kidnapping by the rebels in the province.
July 25,
Reports differ over the date of the slaughter and the exact number of deaths. 

Ministry of Information Undersecretary of State Sieng Lapresse said at a press conference that 21 villagers were killed "sometime between July 15 and July 21."

Speaking by telephone yesterday, Siem Reap Chief of Police Sart Nady said 22 villagers had been killed July 7. The villagers all came from Kon Krel commune, Sam Rong district, he said, adding that they were bound and then sprayed with bullets from a mounted machine gun.

By Chea Sotheacheath and
Mark Mitchell

KR Defectors’ Kin Targeted

Siem Reap - As the number of high-ranking Khmer Rouge defectors slowly mounts, the guerrillas have threatened to wage a new war, this one against the defectors’ families.
July 18,
Heng Sara, the regional commander of Division 980, defected to the government July 5 after he was ordered to kill family members of other defectors—particularly those of officials, said his wife, Nang Sara.

"My husband was given a list of names, which included family members of soldiers missing in action, whom they also suspect of defecting," said Nang Sara, who is temporarily being sheltered at the home of a friend. Her husband refused to carry out the killings, she said.

"After he was ordered a second and then a third time, he became afraid for his own life, so we escaped to join the government."

Ven Vansem, the military officer in charge of providing Phnom Penh with surveillance information about Siem Reap, Kompong Thom and Preah Vihear, said the guerrillas announced in late 1994 they intended to target families of high-ranking defectors.

The ploy is intended to intimidate others from joining government ranks, he said.

By Robin McDowell

Son Sen Execution Confirmed

In what many see as a precursor to the disintegration of the Khmer Rouge, details emerged over the weekend of the brutal execution of two top cadre and their family, reportedly carried out on orders from Pol Pot.
July 16,
First Deputy Chief of General Staff Nhiek Bun Chhay said Saturday in a press conference that a total of 11 people had been executed, and listed the dead as Son Sen, Yun Yat, their son and eight bodyguards. 

Nhiek Bun Chhay also displayed several color photographs of bloodied corpses, one of which could clearly be identified as that of Son Sen, minister of defense under the 1975-78 Khmer Rouge regime.

In addition, 95 percent of the forces in Anlong Veng are now supporting the government, according to Nhiek Bun Chhay.


Rebels Win Battle for Temples

Siem Reap - The Khmer Rouge crept out of their jungle strongholds and overran the monument temple known as Banteay Srei in the predawn darkness. They met with little resistance from the Cambodian National Army.
Sept. 8, 1993
The Banteay Srei incident marks the latest incursion of the guerrillas into the sacred ruins of Angkor, as well as the most recent card dealt in the power struggle for the possession of Cambodia’s cultural legacy.

"The monuments here are a very sensitive religious and political issue," said First Lieutenant Peter Lammens, a Dutch UNTAC commander in Siem Reap province. "Those who hold the temples hold the power.

"If they take Angkor Wat, it would be disastrous for Cambodian culture."

By Robert Bingham

Guerrillas Attack Train

Nine people were killed and scores injured when Khmer Rouge guerrillas attacked a train in the southern province of Kampot, taking more than 200 passengers including three foreigners captive, a top railway official said yesterday. July 28, 1994

Border Town Shelled

Khmer Rouge guerrillas were shelling hundreds of rounds of rocket and artillery fire at government positions around a town near Cambodia’s northern border with Thailand, a military officer said Sunday. Several hundred families fled their homes to escape the intense shelling. (Kevin Barrington) Jan 31, 1994

O’Smach Pounded

Heavy battles erupted Tuesday between government troops and Khmer Rouge and resistance fighters near O’Smach, Thai military officers said. More than 70 shells fired by the warring factions hit Thai territory Monday. Jan 2, 1998