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Vietnamese Strengthen Hold on Fallen Cambodian Rebel Base

January 13, 1985|United Press International

ARANYAPRATHET, Thailand — Vietnam has moved armored vehicles and thousands of troops into the captured Cambodian guerrilla base at Ampil to consolidate its hold on the camp near the Thai border, rebels said Saturday.

At least 7,000 Vietnamese soldiers are now based in the sprawling camp 43 miles northeast of the major Thai border town of Aranyaprathet, the radio of the rebel Khmer People's National Liberation Front said. The broadcast, monitored here, said 12 Soviet-built T-54 tanks and 16 armored personnel carriers also were at the former rebel headquarters.

The non-communist Khmer Front is one of three Chinese-backed Cambodian rebel groups fighting an estimated 160,000 Vietnamese occupation troops.

The capture of Ampil on Tuesday in a fierce two-day attack using heavy artillery and tanks completed a Vietnamese sweep of major Khmer Front bases along the Thai-Cambodian border 120 miles east of Bangkok.

Lt. Gen. Salya Sripen, commander of Thailand's Eastern Force army, in a briefing on the border situation, said that all was quiet and that fighting at Ampil had stopped.

Cambodian insurgents had continued to attack Vietnamese forces at Ampil for several days after being forced out of the 7.5-square-mile camp.

Salya said Thai troops at the border were marking the frontier separating Thailand and Cambodia to ensure that the Vietnamese at Ampil stayed on their side.

The loss of Ampil was a severe blow to the Khmer Front, which has borne the brunt of Vietnamese attacks during the current dry season offensive.

Son Sann, head of the Khmer Front, said the group would abandon the idea of operating from large bases near the Thai border and concentrate on small-scale guerrilla raids into the interior of Cambodia, occupied by Vietnamese troops since 1978.

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