Tanks idled on Monday on the city’s outskirts, piled high with looted motorcycles, sewing machines, tires and detergent. Patients lay on their beds in an empty hospital abandoned by frightened doctors. Several unclaimed bodies remained in the streets where they had been killed.
On the day after a coup by one of Cambodia’s two feuding prime ministers, the capital city was shuttered, strewn with uncollected garbage and seemingly leaderless. The nation waited in suspense to learn how the newly structured government would exert its power and whether fighting would resume.
There were no complete reports on the number of soldiers and civilians killed in fighting over the weekend. Reuters was able to confirm 13 deaths; Agence France-Presse, 16; and The Associated Press, 32, but officials said the number is certainly much higher.
The coup leader, Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, made no statement or public appearance Monday.
In Paris, where he had gone on Friday, the day before Hun Sen’s assault on his followers, First Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh began an attempt to rally international support, meeting with French President Jacques Chirac and announcing plans to visit the United States.
In a statement that was reported in Paris but not broadcast over the government-controlled radio and TV stations in Phnom Penh, Ranariddh said: “I call on my people to join me, my party and all other patriotic forces to carry out resistance against Hun Sen and his partisans.”
There were unconfirmed reports of armed clashes on Monday in Battambang and Siem Reap provinces. But Ranariddh’s forces are badly outgunned, their leadership has been driven from the capital and it is not clear how much resistance they can muster.
Several officials of the defeated royalist party appeared on television Monday, in the company of officials supporting Hun Sen, to tell their followers to return to their government jobs.