Army close in on Pol Pot in jungle fastness

Pol Pot, the reviled leader of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge movement, could be captured within days and presented before an international genocide tribunal, the country's veteran Co-Prime Minister said yesterday.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh was visibly excited by his speculation, which he said was based on reports he had received from the remote northern jungle stronghold where more than 1,000 renegade Khmer Rouge soldiers are said to have turned their guns on Pol Pot and his small band of loyal fighters.

"We are witnessing historic moments for the people of Cambodia," he said, addressing crowds at the inauguration of a Buddhist pagoda outside the capital, Phnom Penh. "This is the end of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot, and the beginning of peace for this country."

Cambodian military officials are reported to be in radio contact with the breakaway Khmer Rouge, who are encircling Pol Pot's loyalists 25 km east of Anlong Veng. According to Prince Ranariddh: "They are ready to deliver Pol Pot to us, dead or alive."

On Sunday, Khmer Rouge defectors attacked Pol Pot's convoy as it picked its way through jungle roads towards Thailand's border. One lorry is reported to have been captured in the attack and six high-ranking Khmer Rouge commanders, reportedly held hostage by Pol Pot's men, were released.

But the group's nominal leader, Khieu Samphan, is still believed to be in the custody of Pol Pot. So is Christopher Howes, the British mine clearance expert abducted by Khmer Rouge guerrillas in Siam Reap province in March 1996. "It appears that Mr Howes is being held by the Pol Pot faction. But that gentleman was not among those we succeeded in freeing," Prince Ranariddh said.

However, none of the reports have been independently confirmed. There have been many rumours of Mr Howes' survival in Khmer Rouge custody since his abduction during a project to clear heavily mined land around the ancient temples of Angkor Wat in the northern Siam Reap province. But there has been no firm evidence of his whereabouts.

There is even greater scepticism among Phnom Penh-watchers, that Pol Pot, 67, will ever again be seen alive in public. He was last photographed in 1980, but has remained hidden since then amid rumours of failing health.

"Let's wait and see what the government shows us over the next few days. We may be surprised," said one diplomat. "My guess is that if there is really something big under way between rival Khmer Rouge factions, Pol Pol will go out fighting. And he's likely to take as many people with him as he can."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas