Clipped From The Oneonta Star
' VOL. 77 No. 257 Oneonla, N.Y., 13820 Tuesday, April 23, 1968 16 Pages Ten Cento ; ' 1 South Viet troops placed on full alert By JOHN LENGEL Â· Associated Press Writer SAIGON (AP) -- South Vietnam's army in Saigon and 11 outlying provinces was ordered oh full alert Monday, apparently because incidents of the past three days convinced officials the enemy is about to launch a second big offensive against the 'capital. Key sources laid the alert to a case of war jitte;:s. A U.S. mis- lion spokesman said: "No alert or any warning has been issued to American personnel." Another source said U.S. mill- told to exercise caution in the next few days. Marine guards at the U.S. Embassy were briefed on Vietnamese intelligence reports, but the source described this as routine. . Vietnamese intelligence reports asserted the attack would be with all the fury of the Tet offensive in February that wrought havoc in Saigon. The alert seemed to put little reliance on Operation Complete Victory, the biggest allied offensive of the war now sweeping the 11 provinces around Saigon in an attempt to flush enemy This drive by 100,000 allied troops, launched April g, has encountered small North Vietnamese and Viet Cong units but not the big divisions sought. What touched off Vietnamese jitters was the defection Friday of a North Vietnamese colonel --the highest ranking officer to turn himself over to allies in the war. Vietnamese sources said the colonel turned over plans for an attack by upward of 5,000 troops on Saigon Monday. He said for some reason the attack was called off. The colonel's defection and telling of plans for an attack led to U.S. skepticism that the enemy planned anything big for the present against Saigon. "If you were the Viet Cong and one of your high ranking commanding officers defected and spilled his guts about an upcoming attack, would you go ahead with it?" oiie U.S. official asked. Saigon police, however, pointed to two other suspicious incidents. They reported a bus en route from the Mekong Delta was stopped outside Saigon Saturday and police found seven rifles and 40 cases of TNT with detonators in baskets of vegeta- bles. Twenty-one persons were held for questioning. Police uncovered an arms cache of.nine automatic rifles in Saigon's 3rd Precinct Sunday night and arrested seven suspected Viet Cong. TJie cache was within a mile of Independence Palace, where President Nguyen Van Thieu has his office, and near the homes of several high U.S. officials. It was by such infiltration tactics that the Viet Cong were able to launch their surprise attack on Saigon in the Tet offensive. A U.S. military spokesman declared American troops were on the same alert they had been on since the Tet offensive, add ing: "We're just normal..' South Vietnamese troops have been on a 50 per cent alert most of the time since the enemy offensive. Half of them have been allowed overnight passes. Now all troops are restricted to their bases. Vietnamese troops have been put on full alert several times since Tel. Adding to the jitters in the capital was an order Monday afternoon by Vietnamese officials at Cho-Ray Hospital in Cholon, the Chinese quarter badly hit in the Tet offensive, for all U.S. nurses to go home. One nurse said they were told the enemy was expected to attack Monday night or early Tuesday. Throughout the 11 provinces that make up the 3rd Corps area, the day passed quietly except for an area 11 miles southwest of Saigon. There elements of U.S. 9th Division reported heavy contact with an enemy unit. In the air war, U.S. fighter- bombers returned in force to attacks on North Vietnam's southern panhandle Sunday with a break in the bad weather. Hanoi radio claimed tlirei U.S. fighter-bombers were shot down Sunday but there was no confirmation in Saigon. The planes, flying the second highest number of missions ol the year, set three fuel dumps to blazing, and scored hits on trucks, communication lines, artillery and a radar site, pilots reported. They also touched off numerous explosions. The largest number of missions of the war, 160, was flown Friday. But monsoon clouds settled down again and only 94 missions were flown Saturday.