LAOS: Over the River

In the steamy Laos capital of Vientiane early last week, Defense Secretary Phoumi Nosavan 'bubbled with optimism over his army's successes in combating Communist guerrilla attacks on the northern Laotian provinces of Phongsaly and Samneua. "In a month it will all be over," he predicted, adding only as an afterthought, "unless there is an attack from North Viet Nam."

But time plays tricks in primitive Laos, where communications are so poor that reports from the provinces are often as deceptive as stars that are burned out and dead by the time their light...

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