Battle for Cambodia shifts northward
Thousands stranded; top Ranariddh official shot dead
July 8, 1997
Web posted at: 12:00 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- A top aide to ousted First Prime Minister
Prince Norodom Ranariddh was reported killed as fighting for control of
Cambodia moved northward on Tuesday to the ancient capital of Angkor
Thousands of non-Cambodians were stranded by the conflict, which started
as a political dispute but turned bloody on Saturday when fighting broke
out in the capital, Phnom Penh, leaving dozens dead. Troops loyal to
Second Prime Minister Hun Sen were in control of the capital by Monday.
Hun Sen appeared on national television Tuesday to urge the
international community not to meddle in Cambodia's affairs.
The Phnom Penh airport has been closed to commercial flights since the
weekend but Thai air force transport planes evacuated about 300 people,
mostly Thai nationals, from Phnom Penh on Tuesday. More rescue flights
U.S. warships were headed from Japan to Cambodia in case an evacuation
is ordered for the 1,500 Americans in the country.
Hun Sen critic killed
Ho Sok, a leading opponent of coup leader Hun Sen was killed with a
bullet to the head while in custody, coup leaders said Tuesday.
They denied responsibility for his death, however, claiming Ho Sok had
been killed by "the people that were angry with him," following his
arrest on Monday.
Ho Sok, a secretary of state at the Interior Ministry and a senior
member of Ranariddh's royalist political party, was accused of plotting
against Cambodia's new leadership.
Also Tuesday, Hun Sen's military police were going door-to-door at Phnom
Penh's largest hotel seeking opposition members of parliament and
arresting them, said an American democracy activist living in Cambodia.
"They have nowhere to go, no recourse, no voice," said American Ron
Abney, who witnessed the arrests at the Cambodian Hotel. "They're
afraid for their lives."
It is not known how many were rounded up.
Ranariddh, who slipped away to France before the coup, accused Hun Sen
of ordering a "manhunt" of his followers.
Fighting moves northward
One of the world's most impressive religious sites was not spared in the
The sound of small arms fire echoed off the walls of Angkor Thom, the
700-year-old walled city at the heart of the complex housing the famed
Angkor Wat temple in northwestern Cambodia, witnesses said.
In separate fighting nearby, royalist forces broke through Hun Sen's
lines around the city of Siem Reap, 140 miles northwest of Phnom Penh.
In northwestern Banteay Meancheay province, Ranariddh's troops
reportedly were disarming Hun Sen's soldiers.
Hun Sen's forces, however, were in control of Battambang, the country's
second-largest city, 155 miles northwest of the capital.
The renewed fighting appears to signal the collapse of a $3 billion U.N.
investment in peace-making.
Until fighting broke out, Ranariddh and Hun Sen had shared power as
co-heads of a fractured and unwieldy coalition government formed after
1993 U.N.-run elections, which ended nearly two decades of civil war in
Reporter John Raedler and
Reuters contributed to this report.
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