Khmer Rouge defeat

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The Independent Online
PHNOM PENH (AP) - Government forces seized an important Khmer Rouge base with little resistance yesterday after many of the guerrillas fled the battlefield, a United Nations spokesman said.

Government troops had pounded Phum Chat, a Khmer Rouge arms and logistics centre, for two days with more than 600 rounds of artillery and mortars, Eric Falt said. Many guerrillas fled yesterday morning as government soldiers closed in from three directions on the base in the north- western province of Banteay Meanchey.

Phum Chat's capture left only several small Khmer Rouge-controlled areas still standing in the regions under attack. It is the biggest assault on the group since the UN peace-keeping mission began here 17 months ago. In launching the assault, the government said it would no longer tolerate Khmer Rouge attacks or the partitioning of Cambodia. It said the Communist guerrillas must unconditionally surrender the 20 per cent of the country's territory under their control.

The guerrillas have been attacking targets controlled by the UN mission and the interim government formed after a UN-organised election in May, which the Khmer Rouge boycotted.

In Bangkok, the Khmer Rouge president, Khieu Samphan, said he wanted talks to resolve the problem. To end the fighting, he said, 'the only way is to get national reconciliation, and to get that we see the need to meet urgently all the Cambodian leaders.'