In Cambodia, a clash over history of Khmer Rouge

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PHNOM PENH -- In a country where half the students who enter grammar school never finish, Cheak Socheata, 18, is among the most privileged of her generation: She made it to college.

But even Cheak, a first-year medical student at Phnom Penh's University of Health Sciences, has learned next to nothing in school about the Khmer Rouge, who in a little less than four years in power executed, tortured and starved to death an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians, about a quarter of the population.

"I just heard from my parents that there was mass killing," Cheak said. "It's hard to believe." Her high school history teacher told her the basics -- the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 -- and advised her to read about the rest on her own, she recalled.

Nearly three decades after the Khmer Rouge were overthrown, a battle over history is underway in Cambodia.

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