Khmer Rouge leader returns, is beaten by Cambodian mob
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia An angry mob screaming "Dog!" and "Murderer!" today surged past police and beat a top leader of the Khmer Rouge, the Communist guerrilla group whose reign of terror in the 1970s left hundreds of thousands dead.
The government ordered in armored personnel carriers to evacuate Khieu Samphan, the right-hand man to top Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, as the crowd prepared to lynch him. Khieu Samphan and Son Sen, another Khmer Rouge leader, and their aides were flown back to Bangkok, Thailand.
Bleeding from the head and chest, Khieu Samphan cowered in a bedroom as security officers prevented him from being strung up by a wire tied to a ceiling fan.
"Please help me, please don't leave me," he pleaded, asking three foreign photographers to say in the room.
Only hours earlier, Khieu Samphan ended his exile and returned to Phnom Penh to take part in a UN-backed plan to end 13 years of civil war between the Khmer Rouge, its two non-Communist guerrilla allies and the government Vietnam installed after invading Cambodia in 1978.
The attack delayed what would have been the first meeting of a national reconciliation council and appeared to jeopardize a UN-brokered peace accord signed last month in Paris by all four warring factions.
The government, in a statement carried by its official news agency, said it remained fully committed to the peace pact. Under the accord, a Supreme National Council led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk would help pave the way for elections in 1993.
More than 10,000 angry demonstrators converged on the villa housing the Khmer Rouge delegation today after the 60-year-old Khieu Samphan's return. Khieu Samphan was one of the prime architects of the Khmer Rouge's murderous regime, which killed hundreds of thousands of people as the group tried to turn the country into a vast rural commune. Khieu Samphan is now the group's president.
After storming and ransacking the villa, the mob broke into the second-story room where Khieu Samphan was hiding. Reporters saw him huddled against a wall, wearing a steel helmet and bleeding profusely. He apparently had been struck by a rock.
As thousands of protesters ringed the house, six government armored personnel carriers moved into position outside. One backed into the front entranceway and Khieu Samphan, with several other members of his delegation, clambered onto the back of the vehicle.