Cambodian breakaway zone under threat: Violence erupts as election victors launch armed challenge against renegade forces to retake 'autonomous region'

PHNOM PENH - The leader of the Cambodian election's winning party said yesterday he had ordered his soldiers to prepare to retake an 'autonomous zone' established by the losers of last month's ballot. Violence was reported to have erupted in the zone, which includes seven eastern provinces across almost half of Cambodia.

The United Nations peace-keeping mission demanded that the government rein in the renegade forces, which have ordered all members of the winning Funcinpec Party and UN peace-keepers to withdraw from the zone. A government spokesman, however, insisted the administration had lost control over the secessionists.

'We are ready to set up our own forces to fight and liberate that part of Cambodia,' said Prince Norodom Ranariddh of Funcinpec. 'We are not going to accept any partition of Cambodia. Cambodia is small enough.' He said his party had the right of self- defence and had arms caches in the affected provinces.

The secessionists are led by Prince Ranariddh's half-brother, Prince Norodom Chakrapong, a senior official of the Vietnamese-installed government that narrowly lost the UN-organised election to Funcinpec.

Prince Chakrapong claimed the polling was fraught with irregularities, and refused to acknowledge the results, which have been recognised by the United Nations.

In a statement yesterday, the UN mission said it had withdrawn some non-essential staff from three of the seven provinces in the zone, citing 'specific threats' against a number of personnel. It said UN troops and police, however, would stay at their posts.

Funcinpec Party members said that renegade government soldiers have shot their colleagues, burned down their offices and forced more than 1,000 to flee to Phnom Penh from the seven provinces.

'Our Funcinpec workers and supporters had to run away for their lives or they would be shot,' said Ken Savut, who fled Prey Veng province. 'The shooting is real.'

He was among two dozen Funcin pec members who yesterday described in interviews in the capital how soldiers marched through the streets in several of the provinces, shooting several Funcinpec members and beating others.

The UN chief in Cambodia, Yasushi Akashi, said he would hold the government responsible for any attempts by its renegade forces to follow up threats against opposition parties, which he said violated international law.

'Any attempt to deprive the Cambodian people of their stated desire for national reconciliation and democracy . . . would be unacceptable to the international community,' Mr Akashi said. He said he had written a letter asking the Prime Minister, Hun Sen, to explain his plans for dealing with the threats of lawlessness. A government spokesman, Khieu Kanhar ith, said: 'We are trying to contact the mastermind of this uprising but they refuse to have contact with us.'

It is unclear how many soldiers Prince Chakrapong has taken with him in the so-called 'King Father Autonomous Zone' along the border with Vietnam and Laos. UN officials estimate Funcinpec's forces at 5,000.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
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

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments