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Khmer Rouge guerrillas have launched fierce attacks in the countryside ahead of a major United Nations peacekeeping deployment, U.N. military officers and diplomats said Friday.

Observers called the fighting of recent days is the heaviest in more than a year. They said the Communist Khmer Rouge rebels were attempting to capture as much territory as possible before the peacekeepers arrive in force later this month.Any fighting or movements of troops or ammunition violates the U.N.-brokered peace agreement signed by the four warring Cambodian factions last October.