Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

U.S. Bombed Cambodia Long After War

First Published: The Call, Vol. 7, No. 30, July 31, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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This is the seventh in a series of articles by Call journalists who visited Democratic Kampuchea (Cambodia) in April. They were the first Americans to visit that country since its liberation in 1975.

* * *

The U.S. government claims that its war against the Kampuchean people ended in April 1975. But it really didn’t.

Aggressive U.S. actions against Kampuchea have continued to take place. Our recent visit enabled us to gather firsthand evidence about one such incident–the bombing of Siem Reap.

Siem Reap, located in the northwest part of Kampuchea between Lake Tonle Sap and the Thai border, was the site of a vicious bombing raid carried out by U.S. Air Force F-111 jets on February 25, 1976. This was more than ten months after the war had supposedly ended.

The incident of unprovoked U.S. aggression against sovereign, independent, peaceful Kampuchea is one that has beer almost totally covered up in this country. But we learned the facts about it right on the spot.

Standing in the midst of the rubble that had once been the center of Siem Reap, our Kampuchean guide Comrade So told us. “It was the morning of Feb. 25, about 8:30. There was a school here, and the children had already arrived. Suddenly the sky lit up and the shrieking thunder of bombing could be heard. The school had been hit and it was going up in flames.”

The high-flying F-111 dropped three bombs altogether on the central part of Siem Reap. The first bomb, weighing over 1,000 pounds, made a huge crater more than seven yards deep and ten yards in diameter. Two more bombs exploded before the F-111 veered off for Thailand.

Later that day, around 2 P.M., two more F-111s buzzed overhead, again dropping a series of blast-bombs on the same place.

“Twelve children were killed,” said Comrade So, pointing to where the school had stood. “altogether about 15 people were killed and 30 insured.”

We walked over to inspect the sight. The schoolhouse had been reduced to a large pile of cement blocks, with burnt and rusted pieces of aluminum and other metals jutting out from it. Comrade So warned us to be careful, because some undetonated explosive charges might still be buried in the rubble.

Across from the school there had been a childcare center, but it was totally wiped out, leaving only the deep crater. Looking at the evidence of the powerful impact, we imagined what it must have been like that day in 1976 when U.S. planes screamed overhead and a peaceful Kampuchean schoolyard was turned into a nightmarish scene.

It was not hard to picture the expressions on the faces of the people and the commotion that must have ensued. Nor was it difficult to imagine the anger of the townspeople once all the evidence about what had happened was put together.

“It was nothing but air piracy,” said Comrade So. “The bombing of Siem Reap showed us that the U.S. would not resign itself to its defeat in Kampuchea. Like the Mayaquez affair, the bombing of Siem Reap was an aggressive and destructive act against our revolution.”

Comrade So’s reference to the Mayaguez affair reminded us of the details of that incident in May 1975. At that time, U.S. President Ford ordered an attack on a Kampuchean island supposedly to “defend American lives” after the ship Maya-guez had been captured for intruding in Kampuchean waters. Later revelations, however, showed that Ford knew full well that the American sailors were not being held on the island and the attack that he ordered was nothing but an act of aggression designed to bully newly-liberated Kampuchea.

We asked Comrade So why he thought the particular time and place of the Siem Reap bombing was chosen. He explained that there were several factors involved, notably that Samdech Norodom Sihanouk, the former prince and national leader of Kampuchea, was visiting Siem Reap that day. This indicated that the enemy either sought to kill Sihanouk or create an incident that would split the country’s unity.

Comrade So also explained to us that external acts of aggression emanating either from the U.S. or from Vietnam have been repeatedly used to create eon-fusion and give reactionary agents inside the country opportunities to incite conflicts and even to attempt coup d’etats.

The day after the bombing of Siem Reap, Democratic Kampuchea issued a formal statement exposing the facts of the incident and condemning U.S. imperialism for its aggression. The statement was circulated at the United Nations.

In reply, the U.S. government issued a one paragraph note -the only official statement it has ever published about the incident–in which it made a “categorical rejection” of Kampuchea’s charges and said that they were “completely without foundation.”

This self-confident denial disappeared recently, however, when U.S. State Dept. official Tim Carney admitted in a discussion with a Call journalist, “We don’t really know what happened at Siem Reap. They were our planes, all right, but how they got there I don’t know.”

Obviously, the U.S. has much to hide about its role in the bombing of Siem Reap. And Siem Reap is only the tip of the iceberg. As recently as this year there have been several attempted coup d’etats fomented by Kampucheans in the pay of the CIA, as well as many other instances of U.S.-instigated aggression and subversion in Kampuchea.

These facts show that the U.S. did not abandon its efforts to dominate Kampuchea in 1975. It continues to this day working to sabotage the revolution and overthrow the Kampuchean government.