SAIGON, South Viet-Nam, Aug. 7, 1964 (UPI) - South Viet-Namese Military Premier Nguyen Khanh proclaimed a state of full emergency throughout the country today, warning that "we can be attacked at any moment." In a double-barreled decree announced at a news conference, the grim-faced Khanh placed all power in his own hands, making himself the absolute ruler of the country in the current crisis with communism.
He suspended all laws, banned strikes and demonstrations, imposed censorship and travel restrictions, and decreed arrests without appeal and death for convicted saboteurs and terrorists.
Khanh told his people that Red Viet-Cong guerrillas operating in South Viet-Nam are "approaching 150,000, including 34,000 regulars." He cited the threat from North Viet-Nam, from Red China, from Laos and from Cambodia - the latter because of Cambodia's policy toward Viet-Nam.
He said the "coming weeks will decide the fate of our people" and called on the inhabitants of North Viet-Nam to rise up and overthrow their Communist masters. He pledged South Viet-Namese help in any uprising.
He also ordered the nation's civil defense network strengthened as a defense against possible aerial attacks from the Red North.
In Taipei, Formosa, the China News reported today a large number of Communist Chinese jet fighter planes were sent to the North Viet-Namese capital city of Hanoi yesterday.
The English language newspaper, quoting authoritative sources said the number of MIG aircraft dispatched from mainland China was below 100.
Nationalist Chinese intelligence had reported previously that Red Chinese troops had increased in number from 100,000 to 300,000 along the Sino-Viet-Nam border over the past three months.
Observers noted that this buildup put the Red Chinese in the same relative position with regard to North Viet-Nam as they were before they poured across the Yalu River into South Korea against American forces in 1950.
Sources here also said the Chinese Communists have about 70 MIG planes and six submarines stationed on Hainan, an island due east of the Gulf of Tonkin where U.S. and North Viet-Namese naval vessels clashed.
Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara said yesterday it is "probable" that Red China will move combat aircraft into North Viet-Nam because of the navy's raid on Communist torpedo boat nests.
But the Pentagon chief said there was no evidence at this time of any substantial movement of Red Chinese forces, either on land or in the air.
Top U.S. officials said the Navy's deadly reply to North Viet-Namese attacks on U.S. destroyers in international waters, plus the prompt buildup of American power in the area, appeared to have answered its purpose for the time being.
There was a growing feeling in Washington that the "Battle of Tonkin Gulf" had entered the talking stage with the next moves probably to come on the diplomatic front.
One report said that there would be no dramatic moves on the ground by the North Viet-Namese or Red Chinese. But there could be another fracas if Red Chinese or Russian planes buzz American warships in the Tonkin Gulf.
Russia's accusations made today in Moscow that U.S. planes were buzzing Red ships could be a move to blunt any American charges in case the latter happened. It would also be a feather in Moscow's cap in the Sino-Soviet dispute if Russian planes were to do the buzzing.
Assistant Secretary of State William P. Bundy acknowledged that South Viet-Namese gunboats may have attacked two North Viet-Namese islands in the gulf a day or two before the first Communist assault on the U.S. destroyer Maddox.
Bundy added, however, that the American warship was at least 60 miles away at the time and "had no part whatever in any such action."
Bundy said that the Red assertion that U.S. destroyers were protecting or backing up any South Viet-Namese attacks - if they actually took place - "is false and I am sure that they (the Communists) realize this, too."
Other officials said, however, that South Viet-Namese gunboats had, in the past, occasionally lobbed a few shells into North Viet-Namese islands.
This is because the Tonkin Gulf is one of the Communist guerrillas' principal routes for supplies and reinforcements from the north. These officials said that U.S. forces on the scene did not participate in such attacks, but probably knew about them.
In other developments:
The Chinese Reds said that President Johnson has "taken the first step in extending the war in Indochina, but they carefully avoided any specific threats of Chinese retaliation. A Peking broadcast, in an apparent gibe at Moscow, said "the democratic republic of (North Viet-Nam) is a member of the Socialist camp. No Socialist country can sit idly by while it is being subjected to aggression."
North Viet-Nam today raised its claims of shoot-down of American planes to eight. Washington admits two planes were shot down and two damaged.
Great Britain stood ready today to help U.S. efforts to keep the Southeast Asian conflict from spreading. But the government made it clear that, while it will back Washington diplomatically and in the United Nations, it plans no armed intervention.