(From Wire Dispatches)
Angkor Wat. Cambodia's famous temple and national treasure, has been severely damaged by a Cambodian army artillery barrage, authoritative sources disclosed yesterday.
The shelling secured three months ago but has been kept secret by the Phnom Penh government, informants said. Reports of the shelling came from travellers returning from Siem Reap, the town nearest Angkor. The reports were later confirmed by a government expert who saw photographs of the damage.
The huge temple, Cambodia's national symbol, was occupied by forces sympathizing with ousted Prime Minister Norodom Sihanouk last June. At that time, government forces were ordered not to attack for fear that fighting would destroy the temple.
The barrage, fired by a 105 mm, howitzer battery, hit the south side of the main temple, destroying the third floor of the southern gate, the sources reported. Ten peasants were killed in a nearby pagoda.
Angkor Wat. which covers nearly a square mile, was built in the 12th century and is thought to be a funeral memorial as well as a temple. The history of the Khmer empire is depicted in its carved stone fres??, considered among the world's outstanding examples of bas-relief art.
John M. Roseafield, professor of Fine Arts, said last night. "If it's true, this is awful news. It's just one more example of the price the world is paying for the continuing folly in Southeast Asia."