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Friday, April 10, 1998 Published at 21:27 GMT 22:27 UK


Khmer Rouge fights on
image: [ The Khmer Rouge guerillas still prepare for war every day ]
The Khmer Rouge guerillas still prepare for war every day

After launching a major new offensive earlier this month the Cambodian military is attempting finally to defeat the Khmer Rouge deep in the jungles close to the Thai border. The military initially scored a major success when hundreds of the rebels defected to the government's side. But the Khmer Rouge have put up strong resistance. As our correspondent, Enver Solomon reports, the men who led Cambodia into genocide are not finished yet.

As a Cambodian military helicopter circles to land, a group of young Khmer Rouge guerrillas stand patiently, waiting for its arrival. For them, the war is over and their new allies have come to bring them much needed provisions.

There is plenty of back-slapping and handshakes, cans of beer are passed round, the former battlefield enemies are beginning to make friends.

[ image: Some guerillas have simply become tired of fighting]
Some guerillas have simply become tired of fighting
More than 200 Khmer Rouge guerrillas defected to the government at the ancient temple of Prevahear earlier this month. They were simply tired of fighting.

Their commander, Em Hun, says they were disillusioned with the dictatorial style of the Khmer Rouge leadership. Having consulted his comrades, he sent a letter to the government forces across the hills, announcing their wish to end all hostilities.

Hours later the Cambodian military appeared along the dirt track which winds its way through the minefields to the base of the temple.

[ image: General Chea Saran]
General Chea Saran
After years of vicious guerrilla war, Prevahear was in the government's hands.

General Chea Saran is masterminding the military's campaign.

"Here in this temple is the evidence that we are joining together. It is the evidence that the final chapter in the Khmer Rouge era has been completed," he says.

[ image: The fight goes on]
The fight goes on
But the remaining hardcore Khmer Rouge guerrillas insist that this is nonsense.

In their daily radio broadcast from their last stronghold of Anlong Veng deep in the Cambodian jungle, 60 km west of Prevahear, the guerrillas continue to denounce the government.

After a bloody internal feud last year which led to the house arrest of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leadership has regrouped.

[ image: Ta Mok:
Ta Mok: "We will continue our fight"
In a recent interview their feared military commander, Ta Mok, made it clear that the struggle was far from over: "We will continue our fight, no matter what the Cambodian government does, because we want to protect the Khmer people and defend their land."

Despite this defiance the guerrillas no longer have full control over their territory. In the last two days the Cambodian army has pushed them out of the main village in Anlong Veng.

[ image: The Cambonian army pushes on]
The Cambonian army pushes on
Ta Mok and his forces of just a few thousand soldiers, have taken refuge in the mountains close to the Thai border.

But according to Cambodian analyst, Jacques Beckaert, this does not mean the Khmer Rouge are on the verge of final defeat.

"For now, the government appears to own the village of Anlong Veng," he says. "The Khmer Rouge are close, it will not be the first time the Khmer Rouge withdraw and then relax and then fight back so there is not total victory yet."

[ image: Cambodian army hopes more Khmer defections]
Cambodian army hopes more Khmer defections
From their new military base at Prevahear temple the Cambodian army is marshalling the troops via its radio link to head west toward Anlong Veng. Commanders privately admit that it will be extremely difficult to defeat the Khmer Rouge on the battlefield.

They are hoping that further defections will lead to the groups collapse. For now, the final chapter of one of the world's most brutal guerrilla movement has yet to be completed.


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