Khmer Rouge Seizes 21 UN Hostages

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THE militant Khmer Rouge guerrilla faction has taken 21 United Nations peacekeepers hostage in a central Cambodian province where others had been held captive earlier this month, a UN spokesman said yesterday.

Negotiations are under way for the men's release.

On Dec. 1, Khmer Rouge guerrillas captured six UN peacekeepers in Kompong Thom province. The six were released unharmed three days later. The province has been the scene of the worst cease-fire violations since the signing of the UN-sponsored Paris peace agreement in October 1991.

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The spokesman for the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), Eric Falt, said that early reports indicated the peacekeepers were taken prisoner by a local Khmer Rouge commander acting on his own.

The agreement, which was signed by all four Cambodian factions, formally ended a 13-year civil war and paved the way for the deployment of the 22,000-strong UNTAC peacekeeping force.

The Khmer Rouge has refused to honor key provisions of the pact, including disarming most of its fighters and allowing the UN access to areas under its control.

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