Three outposts in the northern coastal province of Quang Ngai have been captured by communist forces.
Three outposts in the northern coastal province of Quang Ngai have been captured by communist forces. They were overrun at the weekend, and south Vietnamese observers believe there are now at least 9,000 North Vietnamese troops and Vietcong guerrillas in the southern section of the province.
A major effect of the conquest of the outposts is that the North Vietnamese have dug in anti-aircraft guns which are now, for the first time, posing a threat to the South Vietnamese air power.
South Vietnamese casualties have been heavy since the fighting began in the area about ten days ago, and armoured reinforcements have been called in to help flush out the infiltrating communist forces. The developments have also changed the lives of the local population, most of whom will be transported south where they'll live in special camps.
SYNOPSIS: A sudden change in the pattern of fighting in the Quang Ngai province of South Vietnam.
A surprise communist initiative led to severe casualties among South Vietnamese forces, and the loss of three outposts. At least nine thousand North Vietnamese troops and Vietcong guerrillas are believed to be operating in the southern half of Quang Ngai.
One major result of the communist successes is that they've now dug in anti-aircraft guns. These are providing a big threat to the South Vietnamese air superiority.
Armoured reinforcements have now been called in to help flush the guerrilla forces into the open.
But the sudden communist advance is a big set-back to President Thieu's pledge to reconquer his country right up to a special "no-mansland" within ten miles of the demilitarised zone.
Most of the local population have suddenly found themselves in the front line. As refugees, they now face transportation south to join thousands of other homeless war victims in the refugee camps.