Laos has acknowledged arresting two Americans who entered the communist country to publicize a reward to free American war prisoners.

U.S. officials in Bangkok said the Laotian government has informed the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane that it had arrested Donna Long of Jacksonville, N.C., and former Linton, Ind., resident James Copp, now of Hampstead, N.C.It was the first reported acknowledgment by Laos that its forces had captured the pair.

Long and Copp hired a Thai fishing boat, crossed the Mekong River boundary between Thailand and Laos and were captured Oct. 3 in a Laotian village, according to Thais who were able to visit them.