At least 10 Cambodian soldiers have been killed and 40 wounded in a truce-breaking Khmer Rouge offensive to grab land before U.N. peacekeepers arrive, officials said Friday.
Observers said the offensive, which began this week, is the heaviest in more than a year. They said the Communist Khmer Rouge apparently is attempting to capture as much territory as possible before the full deployment of 22,000 peacekeepers later this month.
Budget problems delayed the start of the United Nations' peace mission, raising fears that the fragile peace will collapse before U.N. troops take control. A small advance group of U.N. officials arrived in November, and the first 250 peacekeepers arrived Wednesday.
Any fighting or movement of troops or ammunition violates the U.N.-brokered peace agreement signed by the four warring Cambodian factions, including the Khmer Rouge. The October agreement cleared the way for the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers.
U.N. officials held an emergency session late Friday with senior military representatives of all four factions to discuss the cease-fire violations. Another meeting was expected today.