Friday, May 12, 1972

2 French Priests Reported Crucified by Communists

PLEIKU, Vietnam (AP) --The senior U.S. adviser for the central highlands said Wednesday night he had received reports that Vietnamese Communists crucified two French priests in Kontum Province.

John Paul Vann told a news conference the reports said the Communists had committed atrocities in areas of Kontum Province which they occupied during their 42-day offensive.

He said that according to the reports, two French priests who stayed with their congregations in the tiny village of Kon Horing, 26 miles northwest of Kontum City, were crucified in the past week. He gave no further details. He did not identify the sources of his reports or the French priests.

At least 78 civilians were killed and 100 wounded at Kon Horing on Feb. 23, 1969, when Communist-led forces shelled and launched a ground assault on the village, burning down 125 homes.

Vann said that in another atrocity, the family of one of his Vietnamese interpreters was murdered and a sign put over the door of their house asking what the interpreter, an [sic] employe of the allies, could do for his family now.

The senior U.S. adviser was asked about reports that pilots of South Vietnamese Air Force helicopters carrying small numbers of refugees from Kontum to Pleiku had charged amounts equal to that of airline fares.

"Some have obviously done it but the majority have not done it," Vann said. "There are always some unscrupulous people who are going to benefit in a situation like this. We have had numerous reports and we have handed them over to the appropriate authorities to investigate."

Vann said that about 21,000 civilians still remain in the threatened provincial capital of Kontum City, but that evacuation would continue "to the maximum of our ability." All civilians must be evacuated by air since Highway 14 between Kontum and Pleiku has been closed by fighting during the past week.

Vann said he expects that the long awaited attack on Kontum City will begin by shelling which will gradually increase.

"Sometime in the middle of the night, he (the enemy) will have his tanks come out from wherever they are and with his infantry go crashing into some vital part (of the city)," he said.

Vann also said that no major change in the Communist command's battlefield plan can be expected in the next six months because of President Nixon's orders to mine North Vietnamese ports.

He said his long experience in Vietnam leads him to believe that the Communists "will adhere to plans developed months and months in advance."

Vann told the news conference the mining could affect enemy supplies on the northern front below the Demilitarized Zone within a month, but in areas farther south there probably would be no marked effect for a considerably longer time, because of the length of the overland supply lines.

"To cut his water off like this might be more effective than anything else to cut off his supply lines," Vann declared. "If this had been done in the past, there would not be any tanks rumbling southward now."

"2 French Priests Reported Crucified by Communists", PLEIKU, Vietnam (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Friday, May 12, 1972 and reprinted with permission from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
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