Khmer Rouge threat to kill Westerners

PHNOM PENH (Reuter) - Cambodia's outlawed Khmer Rouge guerrilla faction has threatened to kill Westerners whose countries provide military support to the Phnom Penh government, rebel radio said yesterday.

'If the United States, Australia and France are waging war to kill Cambodians, then Americans, Australians and French will also be killed or wounded,' Khmer Rouge radio said. 'This means that if you play with fire, your head will get burnt.'

The United States and France have provided 'non-lethal' military assistance to the Cambodian army. Australia has offered to pay for a naval maintenance facility and communications network for the armed forces.

A Western diplomatic source said it was unlikely the threat of violence would affect negotiations to free three Western tourists being held by the insurgents in southern Kampot province. Talks are under way for the release of Mark Slater, 28, from Corby in Northamptonshire; a Frenchman, Jean-Michel Braquet, 28, from Nice; and an Australian, David Wilson, 29, from Melbourne.