UPDATED at 9:45 A.M. EST on 2016-03-25
Unidentified gunmen killed a truck driver and wounded six Chinese nationals on a bus along a road in central Laos on Wednesday, a driver who witnessed the scene after the incident occurred said.
The shootings occurred around 10 p.m. between Tham and Houasan villages in the Kasy district of Vientiane province about 175 kilometers (105 miles) north of the capital Vientiane.
The bus was heading to the Lao capital from Kunming in southwestern China’s Yunnan province.
“I saw that the driver had died in the pickup, and the front of the Chinese bus had bullet holes [at the scene] where local security forces were on duty,” a motorist who passed by the site told RFA’s Lao Service on Thursday. “People there told me that six Chinese were wounded.”
The driver, who requested anonymity, said he was fortunate that he had delayed his trip from Vientiane to Luang Prabang by a day so he was not on the road when the shootings occurred.
Twenty-five passengers and three drivers were on the bus, and the six injured Chinese were sent to a hospital, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.
RFA tried to contact the relevant officials in Kasy district as well as the press department at the foreign affairs ministry for more information, but an official who answered the phone at the latter refused to give any details.
The incident was the latest in a series of shootings that have killed or injured drivers and passengers in vehicles traveling along roads in central Laos.
In early March, a Chinese man was killed and eight other people were injured by unidentified “bandits” in three near-simultaneous shootings in the northern part of the country.
Unidentified gunmen shot up a passenger bus in January on Route 13 North in Kasy district, leaving one of about a dozen passengers in the vehicle injured, but caused no deaths.
In another incident last December, 15 bandits shot two motorcyclists in the Anouvong district of north-central Xaysomboun province, killing one and injuring the other.
Three days later, bandits shot at a truck transporting beer in Anouvong, injuring two people in the vehicle.
An exchange of gunfire between a Lao anti-government resistance group and local troops in Xaysomboun late November left three government soldiers dead and some others injured.
China is an important investor and trade partner for fellow communist country Laos. Although China’s growing economic footprint in Laos has caused some local discontent, none of the attacks that have involved Chinese nationals has been accompanied by political statements or any indication of motive.
Reported by RFA’s Laos Service. Translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said the incident occurred in northern Laos and placed Kunming in Sichuan province.