King Sihanouk returns to Cambodia from China
Cambodia claims rebel base retaken
April 11, 1998
Web posted at: 2:35 p.m. EDT (1835 GMT)
SIEM REAP, Cambodia (CNN) --
King Norodom Sihanouk returned
to his homeland from China on Saturday, amid claims by
government forces that Khmer Rouge guerrillas were retreating
in northern parts of Cambodia.
Sihanouk was accompanied by his wife, Queen Monineath, and
greeted in the northern town of Siem Reap by acting head of
state and National Assembly President Chea Sim and other
"I am very happy to meet you here," the king said after
stepping off the plane.
The 75-year-old king maintains a small palace in Siem Reap.
The town is home to the ancient Angkor Wat temple complex,
Cambodia's most important national symbol.
Sihanouk had spent three months in China for medical
treatment. "Very good," the king replied when asked about his
Small groups of people stood by the road and waved as
Sihanouk was driven from the airport to his palace in the
center of town.
General predicts Khmer Rouge demise
Meanwhile, there has been a prolonged battle for control of
the Khmer Rouge base at Anlong Veng, about 80 miles north of
Gen. Meas Sophea, army deputy chief of staff, said Anlong
Veng was recaptured by pro-government forces Tuesday, and
guerrillas loyal to Khmer Rouge leader Ta Mok were retreating
to the Dongrek Mountains.
"The end of the Khmer Rouge is very near," Meas Sophea
Guerrillas who mutinied nearly three weeks ago against Ta Mok
to protest his allegedly brutal rule were being supported by
government troops in pursuing him.
Meas Sophea said attempts were being made to persuade the 200
fighters still with Ta Mok to switch sides.
Army commanders said Ta Mok was also backed by 500 fighters
loyal to Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Sihanouk's son who was
deposed as co-premier in a coup last July. The prince and the
fighters have a common enemy in Cambodia's current leader,
Ranariddh was allowed to return from exile last week to start
preparing for July 26 elections and plans to travel to Siem
Reap to consult with his father.
Sihanouk wants Pol Pot brought to trial
Ta Mok toppled Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot a year ago and
placed him under house arrest. Under Pol Pot's leadership, as
many as 2 million Cambodians perished from forced labor,
disease and systematic executions between 1975 and 1979.
The Anlong Veng rebels are the last Khmer Rouge faction that
has not made peace with the government.
A Cambodian newspaper quoted Sihanouk as saying he would
support U.S. efforts to bring Pol Pot to trial. Sihanouk had
been held prisoner by Pol Pot, and several members of his
family died under his rule.
"Pol Pot is one of the most horrible monsters ever created by
humanity," Sihanouk told the Cambodian Daily. "He deserves to
be judged and condemned by an international court of