Friday, May 25 , 1973
T1-1E SUMMER DAILY
Innocent victims o
By DENNIS NEELD villages and hamlets have been army gave the wrong coordinat-
Associated Press Writer burned by insurgent forces who es."
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - have been on the offensive since THERE IS NO accurate record
The stepped-up U.S. air war early in the year. of civilians killed and wounded
in Cambodia is in its fourth Mao Poch is a farmer and part- by the round-the-clock U.S. tacti-
month and the people in the time government soldier in the cal air strikes and saturation
countryside are feeling its ef- vilage of Chhnok Trou. He told raids by B52s. Many casualties
fects., of a bombing mistake on May remain behind Communist lines.
Despite complex target screen- 1 when he was wounded in both Government hospitals list v i c-:
ing procedures by American air legs. tims of the air war only as
plotters, there are reports that "Eighty houses were destroyed "wounded by shrapnel."
bombs are falling into civilian and yet there were no Commun- The Cambodian government
areas because of inaccurate in- ists in the village," he said. "I lists 12,273 civilian dead and 28,-
formation from Cambodian field was talking with friends in my 665 wounded in three years af
commanders or because of mis- house when the bombs hit. With war. Since the beginning of the
takes. my own eyes I saw 20 people current enemy offensive, only
ADDED TO THIS, hundreds of killed and 10 wounded. T h e 156 are listed as killed and 204
wounded. But the figures are for
only those whose families a r e
said to have claimed relief pay-
"In war, some civilian casual-
ties are unavoidable," said Col.
Am Rong; spokesman for t h e
Cambodian command. "We pre-
sume some have been killed by
< bombing. It is inevitable."
THE THAI-BASED 7th Air
Force and the U.S. Embassy in
Phnom Penh - which plays a
major role in screening targets-
nevertheless have worked out
procedures which they say are
limiting civilian bombing victims
to a minimum.
But since B52s strike mostly at
suspected Communist-led con-
centrations - staging areas and
supply caches usually some dis- Requests for air assistance ori-
tance behind the front lines - ginate with the Cambodian high
civilians wounded in a B52 at- command and are based 'on in-
tack would have trouble reach- formation from reconnaissance
ing a government hospital. flights and intelligence gathering
AT FIRST, much of the air operations.
action was concentrated against Many non-American military
supply routes in eastern Cam- experts in Phnom Penh say that
bodia, used by North Vietnam to Cambodian intelligence machin-
channel troops, tanks and war ery in inadequate for the task,
supplies to South Vietnam. however, with the result that too
From a February average of many air strike requests are
28 missions a day, America's air made, causing excessively high
involvement steadily escalated, civilian casualities.
and the focus of operations shift- ALTHOUGH all air strike re-
ed to the more heavily populated ALTHOUGH all by str y
central, southern and sonthwes- quests are screened by military
tern provinces in direct support personnel in the U.S. embassy in
of hardpressed Cambodian ground Phnom Penh, procedures there
forces.d are also felt to be inadequate to
By mid-March the United prevent massive killing of civil-
States was launching from bases ats.
in Guam and Thailand an aver- Even if civilian casualties are
age of 242 daily missions. The largely avoided, many fear the
scale of operations was main- heavy bombing is heavily dam-
tained through much of April and aging the area around Phnom
there is no reason to believe it Penh and denuding the capital of
has slackened off since' then. its home-grown food supplies.
- AFTER a fact-finding visit to Deserted villages are being oblit-
Phom Penh last month, congres- erated and may take years to re-
sional aides James Lowenstein build.
and Richard Moose reported to MANY Cambodian command-
the Senate Foreign Relations ers rely almost entirely on air
Committee that it was clear the support to flush out insurgents
United States had "become far from bunkers and villages.
more deeply and directly involv-
ed than ever before in the con- Civilians sometimes get in the
duct of the war in Cambodia . . ." way.
AN ABANDONED TRAIN in an unused railroad yard in Phnom
Penh becomes a shelter for this refugee girl, one of thousands
who have fled the Cambodian countryside to escape the strife
of their own civil war and the ravages of American bombing.
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