Hun Sen in control of Cambodian capital
Fighting ends, looting begins
July 7, 1997
Web posted at: 11:18 a.m. EDT (1518 GMT)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- Cambodia's Second Prime Minister Hun Sen took control of Phnom Penh and its outskirts on Monday, as his victorious soldiers rampaged through the Cambodian capital, looting televisions, washing machines and air traffic control equipment.
The mayhem followed two days of fighting that ended when forces loyal to coup leader Hun Sen overran the key strongholds of their royalist opponents. Troops loyal to First Premier Prince Norodom Ranariddh pulled out of their base near Phnom Penh airport overnight.
Although signs of life returning to normal were evident in the capital on Monday, intermittent bursts of small arms fire also were heard. There also were reports of fighting continuing elsewhere in Cambodia.
At least 35 people, both military and civilian, were confirmed killed following two days of fighting. One government official said the number of dead and wounded was as high as 150.
Ranariddh vows resistance
As Ranariddh vowed from France to organize resistance, Hun Sen was rounding up his main opponents when he could find them.
Ranariddh's former Secretary of State for the Interior Ministry, Ho Sok, was arrested Monday, a Hun Sen official said. Ho Sok has been labeled an extremist by the second premier and was high on his enemies list.
Hun Sen said in a radio broadcast late on Sunday that Ranariddh, his uneasy coalition government partner since the 1993 elections, was a "traitor and a thief," and that the prince no longer held the post of first prime minister.
Ranariddh left Cambodia on Friday, before fighting began, saying he fled on the advice of his generals.
Safe in France, Ranariddh said on Monday he wasn't ready to give up.
"I call on my people that they join me, my party and all other patriotic forces to carry out resistance against Hun Sen and his partisans," he said.
Ranariddh had hoped to meet with President Jacques Chirac, but French officials said there were no plans for a meeting.
Airport closed; soldier, civilian looters
No flights in or out of Phnom Penh were expected on Monday, an airport security official said.
The airport, shops, houses and warehouses in the area were looted by soldiers and civilians, witnesses said.
Civil aviation officials were trying to reopen the airport and said looted air traffic control equipment would be returned. One official predicted commercial air traffic would resume Wednesday; another said a month would be needed.
Hundreds of expatriates remained stranded at hotels, waiting to get out. Singapore, Thailand and Australia made preparations to evacuate their nationals.
Sok Phal, chief of the Interior Ministry's information department, denied reports that a state of emergency had been declared to stop looting but he acknowledged that military and police units were ordered to cease their pillage.
Doctors at one hospital reported patients were being discharged early to go home to protect their belongings. At another, struck by shelling over the weekend, doctors had abandoned their patients.
By Monday, all the mattresses, furniture and equipment had been looted.
Reporter John RaedlerReuters contributed to this report.
Related sites:Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.