PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
Khmer Rouge guerrillas seized six United Nations peacekeepers and a UN helicopter trying to scout the scene was hit by gunfire yesterday. A French officer aboard was wounded.
The unarmed peacekeepers - three Britons, two Filipinos, and a New Zealander - were captured at a Khmer Rouge checkpoint on a river in central Cambodia on Tuesday while monitoring troop movements from a boat.
The Khmer Rouge accused them of spying, and efforts to negotiate their release were unavailing. UN spokesman Eric Falt declined to discuss the Khmer Rouge's demands for their release.
In another development, six UN peacekeepers were wounded yesterday when their vehicles ran over newly laid anti-tank mines on a well-traveled road near Siem Reap, 140 miles northwest of Phnom Penh, Mr. Falt said.
About 22,000 UN soldiers and officials are in the country under a peace accord reached last year to end 13 years of civil war. Their mission is to disarm the warring factions and guide the country through democratic elections by next May. But the Khmer Rouge has refused to cooperate and UN peacekeepers have come under attack in recent weeks.
A renewal of fighting is widely feared, especially in light of the economic sanctions the UN Security Council voted Monday to impose on the Khmer Rouge.