Return to the Killing Fields?

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PNOMH PENH: As gunfire echoed through the streets of the capital, Cambodia began to descend once more into the isolated international pariah state it had been under the Khmer Rouge. Three days after Second Prime Minister Hun Sen took over in a bloody coup, troops went door-to-door through Phnom Penh's largest hotel today, hunting down opposition legislators and arresting them. At least one of Hun Sen's vocal critics was shot and killed while in police custody. "He was arrested by the government troops and he has died," said General Khieu Sopheak. The blithe efficiency of the announcement had many fearing a return to the bloody days of the Khmer Rouge. And also a return to the isolation: "Let the Cambodian people solve the situation without interference from outside," said Hun Sen in a national television address. But the coup is already having a ripple effect. Association of Southeast Asian Nations members are reconsidering admitting Cambodia to the security organization at its July 23 annual meeting. Ousted First Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh, who fled to France just ahead of the coup, is expected to arrive in the U.S. Wednesday to appeal for support from Washington and the U.N. Security Council.