Five RCAF soldiers were killed in an ambush in northern Kratie province last week, including the son of the commander of Military Region 1, officials said Wednesday.
Unidentified attackers fired at least one B-40 rocket on a two-truck convoy of military personnel just before sunset Friday along a rural stretch of Route 13 in Sambor district, about 50 km north of Kratie town, Governor Nou Phoeung said.
The attackers then fired assault rifles at the fleeing soldiers.
A driver, three soldiers and the son of Major General Soy Keo were killed, a senior army official confirmed Wednesday. The name of the son was not available. Four others were injured.
The troops were traveling north to the Military Region 1 base in Stung Treng when they were attacked. The senior officer in the convoy, Colonel En Virak Vicheta, a regiment commander, was unhurt, Nou Phoeung said.
Nou Pheung blamed the attack on soldiers of resistance commander Nhiek Bun Chhay, who he said recently moved into the area. General Dom Vuthy, director of personnel for the armed forces, said it was more likely a Khmer Rouge remnant.
A military analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was difficult to believe that soldiers loyal to Nhiek Bun Chhay would migrate to the area from their base on the northern border with Thailand.
The analyst said he believes a group of Khmer Rouge who are based in the area or are roving could be responsible. “To say whether an area is clean of Khmer Rouge is difficult because they are always moving around,” the analyst said.
Officials noted that Kratie-based soldiers from Khmer Rouge Division 709 defected earlier this year. Nou Phoeung said that the rural stretch of Route 13 along the Mekong River, notorious for ambushes, became safe following the February defection.
General In Sidarei, the commander of Military Region 5, was killed in 1996 in a Khmer Rouge ambush near the then-rebel stronghold of Pailin.
The two-star general, who was killed while riding in an armored personnel carrier, had led the previous dry-season offensive against the Khmer Rouge. Six other military officials were killed and four were injured in the ambush.
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