To the casual observer, Saigon may not seem to be located in a country where the battles of war rage almost daily.
To the casual observer, Saigon may not seem to be located in a country where the battles of war rage almost daily. Although there is no fighting in the streets of Saigon, terrorists often provide reminders of the war in the countryside. Last week (8 April) a bomb, believed to have been planted by the Viet Cong, exploded in one of Saigon's liveliest nightclubs. There were only a few customers in the club at the time, but three people were killed and six injured in the blast.
Saigon police say that a stepped up terrorist campaign is underway in the capital city. Two people were killed and twenty wounded by an explosion in a restaurant in suburban Cholon a few days before the nightclub bombing.
These attacks are taking place despite security checks on all persons entering the city. All packages are given a thorough check for explosives, and everyone must provide identification papers. In Saigon itself, most public buildings have policemen on guard to search the belongings of people entering those institutions.
American servicemen are still everpresent in the streets of Saigon despite a stepped up plan of United States withdrawal of forces. Many officials believe that terrorist activity in Saigon will increase as more American forces are withdrawn from South Vietnam.
SYNOPSIS: Although the war continues in the countryside of South Vietnam, people can still travel with relative safety on the highways into Saigon, the capital city. There are buses which regularly take farmers and villagers to Saigon for marketing or work. In a war where the guerrilla element is strong, this can afford terrorists of the Viet Cong easy access to the population centre that is Saigon. Along all the major routes into the city, South Vietnamese soldiers and Saigon police have set up a series of checkpoints. Every traveller's identification papers are checked and his person and belongings searched for weapons and explosives.
Despite these constant checks and the additional presence of American forces, terrorist bombings continue. Last week this popular night club, the My Phung, was wrecked by a bomb believed to have been planted by forces of the Viet Cong, according to Saigon police. The blast killed one American soldier and two South Vietnamese. Several other customers were wounded by the explosion. The club - one of the few in Saigon without a complement of bar girls -- features the C-B-C, a Vietnamese band that has won wide popularity among Americans, who provide the bulk of the night club's patronage. The explosion was the first such attack seemingly directed against Americans since December.
Although armed Vietnamese Combat Policemen are on guard in and around Saigon, the bombings are difficult to stop, as the terrorists can use the cover of darkness to plant explosives.
Government buildings maintain a security force to check persons entering institutions such as the Post Office. All packages and other belongings are given a thorough check by police. The terrorists, however, can strike at places where security may not be so tight. All public buildings seem to be possible targets. Two Vietnamese were killed and twenty injured in an explosion in a restaurant in suburban Cholon a few days before the nightclub bombing. Saigon police sources attributed these bombings to the Viet Cong and said a stepped-up terrorist campaign was underway in and around the South Vietnamese capital.
American servicemen are still everpresent in the markets of Saigon, despite stepped-up troop withdrawals announced by President Nixon. Many officials believe that it will be these servicemen who will be targets of increased terrorist activity as more and more troops are pulled out of South Vietnam. Saigon may give the impression of being a calm city amidst a country at war, but with each new bombing attack, the atmosphere becomes more tense.