• Short Summary

    The North Vietnamese offensive in Northern Laos this week has drawn attention to the remote base of Long Chen.

  • Description

    The North Vietnamese offensive in Northern Laos this week has drawn attention to the remote base of Long Chen. A fierce battle was fought near the base on Friday (31 March) and it's reported that the North Vietnamese forces were driven back suffering fifty casualties and the loss of two tanks.

    Long Chen is the chief training centre in Northern Laos for a pro-Govern guerrilla army which works in cooperation with Laotian Government forces. The Army is under the command of a local Meo leader, General Van Thou.

    Vital to the security of Long Chen - and dozens of Meo villages in the area- is the nearby United States - supported base at Ban Son. From Ban Son troops can be flown to Long Chen in a matter of minutes - or to any other Mao centre threatened by North Vietnamese attack.

    But as well as being a military base, Ban Son is also a major distribution ??? centre for relief supplies, and a haven for local people displace by the fighting.

    SYNOPSIS: In Northern Laos - the United States supported camp at Ban Son. From here troops can be airlifted in a matter of minutes to the nearby base at Long Chen. Ban Son acts as a back-up for Long Chen which is a training centre for a pro-government guerrilla force which works in cooperation with the Laotian government troops. These troops were on their way to Long Chen - at the weekend the subject of a concerted North Vietnamese attack. Reports indicate the attackers were driven back. A large part of the fighting force in this area comes from neighbouring Thailand. These soldiers join a force that is under the command of the local tribal leader, General Van Theo.

    Ban Son also offers a have for refugees. Normally about two thousand people live in this village - now, with the increase in fighting, the number has swelled by a further thousand. Altogether it is estimated there are about 150-thousand people in the area made homeless by the fighting. Ban Son acts as a central distribution point for relief supplies. The United States spends fifteen million dollars a year helping refugees in Laos. A lot of this money is channelled through the base at Ban Son. Traditional living has been swept aside by the war. Meo tribes have always lived in small groups - about a dozen families in each. Now the traditional living pattern has become impossible as hundreds gather together for safety.

    The pigs are part of the United States aid to this area. But despite the humanitarian work carried out by the Ban Son base it remains primarily a military establishment, a back-up for forces now fighting the new North Vietnamese offensive.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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