PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Rival factions of the disintegrating Khmer Rouge squared off Saturday near the Thai border, where Pol Pot, the movement's leader, was reported trapped, ill and unable to walk.
Cambodia has closed its border to prevent his escape, and government leaders say the standoff may mean the end of the Khmer Rouge, which created one of the century's most brutal regimes.
A Cambodian prime minister said the government army should sit back while the remnants of the group destroyed each other.
"We sit on the mountaintop and watch the tiger and lion fight each other," Second Prime Minister Hun Sen said. "Let them be injured first so we can capture them. Then we can consider our options."
Government military officials reported sporadic fighting between the two groups. Whatever the outcome, the Maoist-inspired movement, which caused the deaths of as many as 2 million Cambodians during a reign of terror from 1975 to 1979, appeared to be finished in the jungles of northern Cambodia.
Cambodia's other premier, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, said the infighting, sparked by Pol Pot's reported execution Tuesday of his former defense chief for trying to negotiate a large-scale defection to the government, signaled "the veritable end of the Khmer Rouge."
Ranariddh said Pol Pot, 69, was unable to walk and on an intravenous drip, though his ailment was not known.
Gen. Nhek Bunchhay, deputy army chief of staff, said Pol Pot and about 200 troops were surrounded near the Thai border by about 1,000 former comrades led by Ta Mok, a Khmer Rouge commander.
The general said Ta Mok's faction had agreed to defect to the government.