The Khmer Rouge Thursday blamed the government for major fighting in central Cambodia and said it has invited U.N. peacekeeping forces to go and see for themselves.
"We are victims of aggression," the guerrilla group's president, Khieu Samphan, said upon arriving in Phnom Penh to meet Yasushi Akashi, the head of the U.N. Transitional Authority.The authority is to oversee the administration of the country until democratic elections are held in 1993.
The government and the Khmer Rouge-dominated guerrilla coalition signed a peace treaty in October to end 13 years of civil war.
But fighting flared anew in Kompong Thom province on Jan. 5 and at least 50 civilians have been killed or wounded since, government military commanders say.
Artillery duels have driven more than 10,000 people from their homes to refuge along National Highway No. 6, which links the provincial capital and Phnom Penh, 85 miles to the south.
Khmer Rouge officials said they have invited U.N. troops to come immediately to their zones in Kompong Thom.
The U.N. forces refused, diplomats said, because the current small advance contingent does not have a mandate to investigate truce violations.
Akashi said Wednesday that he does not expect the main peacekeeping force to arrive before April because of U.N. budget problems.
Prime Minister Hun Sen's people "are opposed to the peace process and they continue to sabotage the agreement by attacking us to expand their territory," said Mak Ben, a Khmer Rouge official in Phnom Penh.
"Who can decide who is right or wrong? We need a third party to verify cease-fire violations," he said in an interview Thursday.
The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there are some suggestions that the government may have started the battles in Kompong Thom.
They said the Khmer Rouge began protesting the fighting early this month.
The government, they said, has not officially protested to a joint military working group that the Cambodian rivals established to monitor truce violations.
The Cambodian civil war began after Vietnam invaded Cambodia in late 1978 and ousted a Khmer Rouge regime that had killed hundreds of thousands of people in a fanatical attempt to build an agrarian utopia.
Vietnam says it withdrew its troops in 1989.