Cambodia Blast Kills 2 Chinese U.N. Soldiers

From Times Wire Services

Two Chinese U.N. peacekeeping soldiers were killed and three wounded in an overnight explosion at their base in southeastern Cambodia, a U.N. spokesman said today.

“We don’t yet know if the explosion was an attack or an accident,” the spokesman said.

The explosion happened at about midnight at a base of Chinese engineers in Cheung Prey district of Kompong Cham province, the spokesman said.

The soldiers were the first Chinese members of the 22,000-strong U.N. Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) to be killed since the force deployed in March, 1992.


The wounded soldiers had been evacuated to the U.N. hospital in Phnom Penh, he said.

The UNTAC force is in Cambodia to organize national elections starting Sunday, the country’s first multi-party elections in more than two decades.

Khmer Rouge spokesman Mak Ben warned on Friday that holding the U.N.-monitored elections as scheduled next week would “put oil on the flames of war.” The Khmer Rouge is boycotting the elections.

The spokesman said the elections would not allow the Cambodian people to exercise their right to self-determination but would only give “a cover of legality” to the Vietnamese-installed government in Phnom Penh.

The Khmer Rouge has tried to sabotage election preparations by attacking U.N. personnel and government forces. Before the latest incident, 14 peacekeepers had been killed in hostile action since the beginning of the year.

On May 4, the radical Khmer Rouge guerrillas attacked a Chinese engineer base in Kompong Thom in central Cambodia with artillery fire, but there were no casualties.

That was the first time the guerrillas, who are boycotting the polls, had turned their guns on China, their backer during 13 years of civil war.