Friday, June 9, 1972

Bombers Put a Change In Reds' Plans at Kontum

Compiled From S&S Vietnam Bureau and AP

KONTUM, Vietnam
--A massive North Vietnamese Army ground attack planned for Wednesday against the city in the Central Highlands was canceled because of lack of resupply and heavy casualties inflicted by American bombing, sources here said

Still very much determined to wrest Kontum from its 23rd Div. defenders, the NVA had planned the second assault after regrouping north of the city, where they had withdrawn after being beaten off earlier, informed sources said. There were reports of tracked vehicles being moved down from the north via jungle trails.

The senior U.S. adviser in the Central Highlands, John Paul Vann, said he expects more major North Vietnamese attacks on the city in the next five days.

Vann said the attacks are likely to come from the north and the south. However, he said the North Vietnamese probably are having difficulty getting ready for fresh assaults because of supply problems.

Vann told newsmen at Pleiku that while the "real battle" for Phu My had not yet begun, the district along the coast of Binh Dinh Province would not fall to the Communists. Three other districts farther north in Binh Dinh Province have been given up by government forces.

He said Communist losses in fighting around Phu My had severely diminished their chances of capturing the district.

Despite the expected attack on Kontum, South Vietnamese and American Army officers appear confident that the Communists can be held off.

"The NVA were finished the day (May 14) the South Vietnamese stood on the front line and did not run," said an adviser to the 23rd Div.

Brig. Gen. Ly Tong Ba, 42, the commander of the division, who was recently promoted in the field by President Nguyen Van Thieu, said most of the NVA have been killed and that the city has been secured.

The last Red tank in Kontum was knocked out Monday by ARVN forces as they cleared the compound on the western side of the city, an American adviser for the regiment said. He said his troops did not know the tank, which was inside a house, was there until they moved into the area.

Small groups of the estimated 20,000 civilians in the city moved around the market place Wednesday as Regional Forces troops gathered in doorways of casually strolled on the streets. Only a frequent crackle of small arms fire could be detected in the otherwise peaceful city.

The South Vietnamese general, who had served as the first commander of a mechanized unit in Vietnam, has ordered strict surveillance by a beefed-up unit of military police to prevent looting.

"Bombers Put a Change In Reds' Plans at Kontum", compiled From S&S Vietnam Bureau and AP, KONTUM, Vietnam-- published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Friday, June 9, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes..
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