Defense: Mr. Pacific

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Rifle fire crackled on the road from Vientiane to Luangprabang as pro-Western Laotian forces made desultory trouble for pro-Communist rebels. Soviet transports droned out of North Viet Nam parachuting supplies to the rebels, and Communists in the air or on the ground shot up an unarmed U.S. observation plane that was taking pictures of the airdrop.

Civil war in the steamy Laotian corner of Southeast Asia last week, confined at first to brief scraps and total confusion, now blossomed into the prospect of a fullblown crisis. From Premier Prince Boun Oum...

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