(COLD WAR: 1961-75 – continued)
Communists in South Vietnam and perhaps some others who supported the communist leader Ho Chi Minh, organized resistance to the Saigon regime, which was hunting them down in an effort to extend their control through the whole of South Vietnam. In 1960 the force to be known as the Vietcong formed the National Liberation Front (NLF), hoping to encourage the participation of non-communists in the insurgency. Many who joined the National Liberation Front in the early 1960s were southerners who had resettled in the North after the Geneva Accords of 1954. Hanoi had given them military training and sent them back to the South along the Ho Chi Minh trail.
The historian Mark Philip Bradley writes that the NLF was able to infiltrate as many as 80 percent of the strategic hamlets (concentration camps) constructed by the Saigon government. In the race for control over other areas in the countryside, Bradley writes of the NLF and Saigon terror:
The Front targeted the most competent and the most corrupt local officials of the Diem government, killing some 6,000 officials in the early 1960s. As many as 25,000 civilians were also murdered in this period, suggesting that the NLF did not always carefully discriminate between its targets. But once in conrol of an area, the Front generally did significantly reduce its attcks on civilians. NLF assassinations fell by 80 percent between 1961 and 1965 as their control over rurl souther Vietnam increased.
At the same time, through Public Law 10/59 and more widespread authoritarian repression, the Diem government's use of terror against civilians was increasing and become ever more arbitrary. It terms of both physical and economc well-being, many peasants saw the NLF not only as allowing them to get on with their lives but as profividing the opportunity to improve them. (Mark Philip Bradley, Vietnam at War, p. 97)
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