Veterans of a 1984 campaign against the invading Chinese place incense sticks on the tombs of unidentified comrades who died in the war. Photo by Truong Son
A prayer ceremony was held Friday to commemorate soldiers and civilians who died fighting Chinese troops to protect the northern border 29 years ago.
More than 200 veterans of the battle, known as campaign MB84, came to Vi Xuyen cemetery in the border province of Ha Giang to pay their respects.
The campaign began on July 12, 1984, to retake many mountainous areas that had been occupied by Chinese forces for a couple of months. More than 600 Vietnamese soldiers were killed on the first night.
The Chinese invasion began in April the same year with massive shelling of what are now Tuyen Quang, Ha Giang, Lang Son, Quang Ninh, Cao Bang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, and Lai Chau Provinces.
Vietnam reclaimed part of the occupied areas in campaign MB84, but had to continue defending them from late 1984 to early 1987.
China stopped its attacks in December 1988 and withdrew troops the next September.
Unofficial statistics estimate China fired nearly 1.9 million artillery shells into Vietnam, including up to 61,000 in a day.
Many Vietnamese civilians had also been killed during a 17-day war started by China in February 1979 when it sent more than 600,000 troops into Vietnam.
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