Cambodian troops have been battling for the Communist-held Pich Nil Pass on Highway Four in a concerted drive to reopen the lifeline between the capital, Phnom Penh, and the sea.
GV Cambodian troops along roadway
SV shell embedded in road crater
MV troops along roadway
GV aircraft on observation
G-A helicopter overhead fires rockets (2 shots)
G-A Phantom air strike
GV Cambodian troops through bush
SV armoured car firing
GV & SV mortars fired
SV wounded soldier in bush
GV troops and vehicles come down Pass
MV PAN, dead soldier carried along road
MV PAN, wounded soldier carried to truck
GV wounded in truck
GV burnt-out truck on Pass
Initials OJP/DW/ES.1440 OLP/DW/PS/1500
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Background: Cambodian troops have been battling for the Communist-held Pich Nil Pass on Highway Four in a concerted drive to reopen the lifeline between the capital, Phnom Penh, and the sea.
On Tuesday (19th January) Cambodian troops were fighting for control of one entrance to the narrow six-mile-long pass halfway between Phnom Penh and the deep-water port of Kompong Som. They had earlier come under close fire as they moved into position near the bottom of the Pass.
The troops were supported by American strike aircraft and helicopters which pumped a constant stream of rockets into Vietcong positions. As they did, several detachments of soldiers left the battle-scarred highway and pushed up through the jungle towards the commanding heights of the Pich Nil Pass. Guerrilla units were encountered on the way, and bitter hand-to-hand fighting ensued. There were no reports available concerning casualties.
On the highway, the remaining Cambodian soldiers were busily engaged returning heavy mortar fire. There was particularly strong resistance form the Vietcong as a push was made towards a villa once owned by deposed Prince Sihanouk. The villa is thought to be held by troops of the North Vietnamese 101st Regiment.
While Cambodian wounded were being evacuated from the area, Vietcong snipers and mortar attacks turned back several advance units along the Pass. However, South Vietnamese troops were reported at the same time to be closing in one the far end of the Pass, and the Phnom Penh military command was reporting that the South Vietnamese had reached the government enclave at Kompong Seila.