Four battalions of Laotian troops new control almost all of the so-called "Skyline Ridge" which dominates the embattled military base of Long Cheng -- a former focal point of the American Central Intelligence Agency's (C.
AV Helicopter coming in to land at Long Cheng base
LV Aircraft attacking and striking at hilltop (2 shots)
SV artillery firing at hillside
SV Heavy mortar firing
GV Artillery firing again and explosion on hillside (3 shots)
GV PAN troops on captured part of ridge
CU Young solider
SV Other soldiers (2 shots)
SV Solider looking down into valley
SV PAN dead solider carried to helicopter on stretcher
SV Wounded soldier hobbling from jeep
SV Injured soldier helped by comrades
GV Soldiers walking across camp
LV Body being lifted into helicopter
GV Aircraft taking off
Initials OS/2323 OS/2342
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Background: Four battalions of Laotian troops new control almost all of the so-called "Skyline Ridge" which dominates the embattled military base of Long Cheng -- a former focal point of the American Central Intelligence Agency's (C.I.A.) activities in Laos.
Two weeks ago, Long Cheng -- 82 miles (131kms) northwest of Vientiane -- was the target of a major North Vietnamese assault. Some 7,000 North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao forces are now concentrated just beyond the ridge, and are reported to have suffered heavy casualties from B-52 strikes.
Long Cheng used to be the training centre for Meo guerrillas and the centre of a multitude of other C.I.A. activities. Since the Communists first launched a full-scale operation against the base on New Year's Eve however, most of the important installations have been destroyed, dismantled, or removed.
Both sides suffered heavy casualties in the fighting for the ridge, and the Laotians admit that all of the North Vietnamese have not yet been flushed out in the surrounding areas. Two Communist companies are dug in at the eastern end of the ridge, and so far have resisted attempts by artillery and air strikes to dislodge them.