The first prisoner of war exchange since the ending of the Laotian civil war earlier this year was completed on Thursday (19 september).
GV Vientiane Airport, police guard in fors ground
LV Troops guarding buses constraining POWs
SV Soldiers guarding aircraft
LV Bus wiht POWs arrives by arrives by aircraft
CU Pilot looking on
GV Troops and officials between aircraft and bus
GV and SV POWs getting out of bus and walk to aircraft (4 shots)
SV More prisoners from bus to aircraft (2 shots)
SCU Government and Pathet Lao officials check list names (2 shots)
SV POW being searched before entering aircraft, last one boarding
SCU Officers looking on
GV Plane taxxing along tarmac
SV People watch from airport balcony with cameras
LV PAN aircraft takes off
Initials OS/1953 OS/2006
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Background: The first prisoner of war exchange since the ending of the Laotian civil war earlier this year was completed on Thursday (19 september).
The Vientiane side, which used to form the generally recognised government of Laos, handed over 1973 North Vietnamese soldiers to its partners in the new coalition Government, the pro-communist Pathet Lao. The prisoners were flown form Vientiane airport to Phonsavanh airfield, just east of the strategic Plain of Jars; seven Pathet Lao soldiers were also handed over.
The Pathet Lao, who bitterly contested the rule of the old Vientiane Government for more than 15 years, handed over 150 Thai volunteers and 20 Laotian soldiers.
There will be a further exchange of prisoners in a week's time, but seasoned observers in Laos see this development as only a small step forward. Their causation is based on the experiences of Vietnam, where war continues despite prisoner exchanges.
Further to this Vietiane maintains that there is still a sizeable force of North Vietnamese troops stationed in Laps, although North Vietnam has refused to recognise the released prisoners as North Vietnamese citizens.