Monday, April 24, 1972

North Viets Overrun Base, Cut Highways in Highlands

SAIGON (AP) --Powerful North Vietnamese forces Sunday heavily shelled and assaulted from four directions the provincial capitol of An Loc, 60 miles north of Saigon.

Compiled From AP and S&S Vietnam Bureau

SAIGON --- North Vietnamese forces surged ominously forward in the central highlands Saturday with a series of attacks that cut the main highway linking the region's two biggest cities and overran a fire base considered critical to their defenses.

A border camp along the Laotian frontier was reported under siege.

The South Vietnamese 2nd Corps headquarters at Pleiku reported the first alleged Communist atrocities of the 24-day North Vietnamese offensive, issuing a report saying that North Vietnamese and Communist Montagnard tribesmen butchered about 100 Montagnards supporting the Saigon government.

The victims were said to have included women and children.

The cutting of North-South Highway 14 that links Pleiku and Kontum and the earlier severing of east-west Highway 19 that runs from the coast to the highlands continues a pattern indicating that the North Vietnamese are apparently trying to strangle major cities before launching a main attack.

Another South Vietnamese fire base on "Rocket Ridge" northwest of Kontum appeared in serious danger of being overrun Saturday night, U.S. military sources in Pleiku said.

They said the two U.S. advisors at Fire Base Yankee had been lifted out by helicopter and that the commander of the ARVN airborne battalion there "didn't think he could hold out much longer."

If Yankee falls, it would be the third outpost to crumble since April 14 and would leave only three small outposts on the 15-mile long ridge.

Meanwhile, Communists shelled two huge ARVN truck convoys on Highway 14 Saturday, one heading south from Kontum and the other proceeding north from Pleiku.

ARVN spokesmen had no information yet on the rocket and mortar attacks, but an officer in the convoy hit south of Kontum said two of his men were killed, one was not expected to live and four were wounded. He said four jeeps were damaged seriously.

Communists overran Fire Base Charlie on Rocket Ridge April 14 with a human wave assault that left hundreds of them dead. Escorted by three Soviet-built PT76 tanks, sources said, elements of the 320th NVA Div. Friday forced a battalion of government airborne troops to withdraw from Fire Base Delta, a mile south of Charlie.

Three government troops were killed and 15 wounded in the shelling and ground attacks on Delta Friday night, ARVN spokesmen said. They said 12 Rangers and seven airborne soldiers were missing.

Twenty-five miles to the north of Kontum, North Vietnamese gunners heavily shelled Tan Canh, the forward headquarters of the South Vietnamese 22nd Inf. Div just to the west of Highway 14.

On the east side of the highway, just opposite Tan Canh, North Vietnamese troops attacked elements of a South Vietnamese regiment near the district town of Dak To. Field reports said 88 North Vietnamese soldiers and 15 South Vietnamese were killed in the fighting, 19 South Vietnamese wounded and 12 missing.

"North Viets Overrun Base, Cut Highways in Highlands", by AP and S&S Vietnam Bureau, published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Monday, April 24, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
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