Khmer Rouge seizes Britons

BRITAIN yesterday condemned the Khmer Rouge guerrillas in Cambodia for taking six United Nations peace-keepers hostage, including three Britons, and demanded their immediate release, writes Raymond Whitaker.

A source quoted by Reuters said the Britons were Lieutenant Scott Verney of the Royal Navy and two Army officers, a Lieutenant-Colonel Williams and a Captain Walton. They were seized with a New Zealander and two Filipinos.

What the Foreign Office described as 'an atrocity' is one of a growing number of incidents involving members of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (Untac). Yesterday a French officer was wounded in an attack on a helicopter, and six UN troops were injured when their vehicles ran over newly laid anti-tank mines.

Although Untac has avoided assigning responsibility for most of the recent attacks on its forces, the Foreign Office condemned Tuesday's abductions of unarmed military observers as 'this latest attempt by the Khmer Rouge to undermine Untac's work'. The Security Council voted to impose sanctions on the Khmer Rouge after it ignored a 15 November deadline to comply with the 1991 peace agreement signed in Paris.

The party seized on Tuesday was aboard a boat on the Stoeng Sen River in central Cambodia, where they were observing troop movements close to Kompong Thom. The men said by radio that they had not been harmed.

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