A delay in transporting prisoners released by the South Vietnamese Government to the North is likely to hold up the whole programme of prisoner exchanges planned for this week.
A delay in transporting prisoners released by the South Vietnamese Government to the North is likely to hold up the whole programme of prisoner exchanges planned for this week. The South Vietnamese Government had intended to release more than four thousand three hundred prisoners during the week and the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong were to have returned nearly eight hundred. The exchanges were to have been completed by Friday (27 July). The delay was caused by the departure of the International Control and Supervision Staff from Loc Ninh, to which the prisoners were being flown, from Bien Hoa. This meant that on Monday (July 23) fewer than four-hundred prisoners were released of the nine-hundred it had been planned to free.
SYNOPSIS: Nine hundred prisoners of the South Vietnamese were due to be released on Monday at Bien Hoa airfield, the one-time United States Air Base.
Some of them had been held for four or five years.
They'd been brought to the airfield by truck from South Vietnamese camps and were to be flown to Loc Ninh before being handed back to the North Vietnamese.
But fewer than half of those who arrived at Bien Hoa were taken on to Loc Ninh. Among those flown out were about forty children aged under three.
In total around three-hundred-and-fifty men and women civilians were released -- after they'd been checked and, in some cases, medically examined. The delay in releasing the others was caused by the departure from the reception airfield of the Control Commission.
They'd been at Loc Ninh to supervise the arrival of the prisoners; but had to leave for Saigon unexpectedly. Five C.-130 aircraft had arrived by then. But a sixth had to take its quota of prisoners back to Bien Hoa after they'd landed at Loc Ninh, and two other flights had to turn back in mid-air. A programme of prisoner exchanges had been arranged for this week and the events at Loc Ninh have probably delayed it.