Second premier's troops tighten grip on Cambodian capital
July 6, 1997
Web posted at: 12:26 p.m. EDT (1626 GMT)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- Cambodia's capital city was a
battleground Sunday, as residents and non-residents alike
fled fighting between forces loyal to the country's two rival
Second Prime Minister Hun Sen's troops tightened their grip
Sunday on Phnom Penh. Roads were blocked, effectively sealing
off the city. Phnom Penh's airport was also closed, and phone
lines were cut, while television stations aired a tape of Hun
Sen accusing his co-premier of preparing for war.
"Prince Norodom Ranariddh and a number of accomplices have
illegally imported weapons in an ill intention to provoke a
war," Hun Sen said.
First Prime Minister Ranariddh, meanwhile, denounced Hun
Sen's actions in a statement released in Paris, where he was
reportedly visiting relatives last week. Reports said
Ranariddh had returned to Cambodia Sunday.
"I call on the Royal Khmer Armed Forces and the Royal Police
to not follow Hun Sen and his partisans in their illegal and
criminal adventure that puts our country in great danger," he
The first prime minister's ailing father, King Norodom
Sihanouk, urged the feuding rulers to join him in Beijing to
negotiate a settlement. Sihanouk is undergoing medical
treatment in the Chinese capital.
The Japanese government said Sunday that the two sides had
agreed to a cease-fire, but the fighting continued Sunday
Reports out of Cambodia were unclear about what faction held
which parts of the city, or if fighting was going on
elsewhere in the country. But it was clear that the
long-simmering feud between the two leaders had erupted.
At least nine people had been killed in the fighting Sunday,
and dozens more were wounded in the mortar, rocket and
machine gun fire that sent thousands scrambling to leave the
Ranariddh's residence and the French embassy were reportedly
damaged in the fighting.
Ranariddh and Hun Sen -- battlefield foes during Cambodia's
long civil war -- became partners in a coalition government
following U.N.-sponsored elections in 1993. But their rivalry
intensified after the alleged capture of ruthless former
dictator Pol Pot by a defecting Khmer Rouge faction.
Hun Sen accused Ranariddh of recruiting Khmer Rouge
guerrillas to bolster his forces. The first premier denied
Correspondent John Raedler and Reuters contributed to this report.
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