• Short Summary

    Communist-led Pathet Lao troops are in action in the former Communist-ruled Laotian
    province of Sam Neua, it is stated in reports reaching London.

  • Description

    Communist-led Pathet Lao troops are in action in the former Communist-ruled Laotian
    province of Sam Neua, it is stated in reports reaching London.

    Rebel forces estimated at battalion strength which attacked an Army post 20
    miles west of the provincial capital of Sam Neua are now said to be moving south
    to another military post 30 miles south of the city.

    Hanoi radio, official voice of Communist North Vietnam, claimed July 31 that 35
    Laotian Government troops had been killed in recent encounters with guerrillas
    and soldiers from the Pathet Lao rebel movement.

    While the Laotian authorities remain undisturbed by the situation and confident
    that the Army will be able to meet any attack, Western Governments have voiced
    deep concern about the maintenance of peace in Laos.

    Exclusive pictures by Visnews portray the life of a nation isolated by
    geographical barriers and historical evolution.

    Thick impenetrable jungle is a feature typical of the mountainous landlocked
    kingdom of Laos where communication between the capital Vientiane and its
    northern provinces is confined to sir travel. The 90.000-square-mile territory,
    one of the former French Indo-China States, with mountain peaks higher than
    10.000 feet has a population of only 2 1/2 million.

    Main lifeline of Lower Laos is the Mekong river. Plans are going ahead to
    exploit its potential as an important waterway for shipping and as a source of
    power. People baths in it, goods are carried on its waters in small boats,
    markets flourish on its banks.

    Many Laotians have moved from the hills to the plains where they depend on
    "slash and burn" agriculture for a living. Farmers cut down the brush and small
    trees, burn them and leave the ashes to enrich the soil. After the harvest of
    hand-sown crops the land is left fallow for five years. Yield is low and soil
    exhaustion rapid under this system.

    Laos, like many other Asian countries, is not in a hurry. It takes life in its
    own stride, and nothing reflects this attitude more than the paddy mill.

    Pounding is done by ancient methods, slow and inexpensive, using "water power"
    of sorts and hollow plan trunks.

    Markets play an important role in Laos where imports and exports are virtually
    Unknown. Trade is done by barter since cash money is hardly available outside
    Vieatiane province. In the two months following the rice harvest, rice is the
    main currency. It is exchanged for fish, tools, clothing and a rare commodity -

    Weaving is a household industry. The old women and many of the younger ones know
    how to weave, though many have been forced to give up this craft because of
    growing preference amongst the villagers for imported ready-made clothes. The
    Laotian weavers are famous for their gold and silver thread weaving, and until
    recently all the clothing requirements of the villages were met by these

    Houses are build on wooden poles, have wooden floors and bamboo matting for
    walls and roofs. Each house has a large common room, and furniture as such is

    The United States Operations Mission is helping the people in many ways. They
    give advice to refugees, help them with resettlement and run a health service.

    Medical teams visit the outlying villages and administer badly needed treatment.

    Children are treated for common diseases like diphtheria, and inoculated against
    whooping cough and other ailments.

    Down-to-earth American aid is this: drums of fresh water so that people can
    drink it, wash in it or take it home in leather containers.

    There is a constant migration of people from the hills to the plains, in search
    of land for cultivation and for jobs. They carry their belongings with them in
    baskets strapped on their backs, their savings in easily convertible silver and

    Whatever the reason for their march, the resettle easily in other places to
    resume a quiet and unhurried life, unworried by thoughts of the future which may
    now hold a grave threat to their peaceful existence.

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    Media URN:
    Reuters - Including Visnews
    Issue Date:
    HD Format:
    Available on request
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