No one injured in central Vientiane blast
WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2003�Sources in Laos say a bomb exploded Friday in the Lao capital, Vientiane, but caused no deaths or injuries, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports. It was third such explosion in Laos this month.
The explosion occurred at 6 p.m. local time Friday near the Patouxay monument in central Vientiane, sources in Laos told RFA's Lao service. No one was killed or injured in the blast, said the sources, who asked not to be named.
No comment from local authorities and no further details were immediately available. Patouxay, known as Vientiane's Arc de Triomphe after the larger version in Paris, is located near the city's main boulevards and government offices.
Earlier in the week, a group calling itself the Free Democratic People�s Government of Laos claimed responsibility for a series of grenade attacks in Laos that have killed four people and injured dozens of others since 2000. A one-page statement faxed to RFA�s Lao service in Bangkok on Oct. 27 said the previously unknown group planned and executed a string of bombings in the Lao capital, Vientiane, and elsewhere, beginning in 2000. Until now, no one had claimed responsibility for the attacks, whose motives remain unclear.
"The [Lao] government should stop blaming outsiders for these bombings. We are responsible,� the group said in an undated fax apparently sent from Nongkhai Province in Thailand. �We are in Laos... Why did you bring Vietnamese troops and station them with the Lao military all over the country?� the statement said, referring to thousands of Vietnamese troops reportedly stationed in Laos since the 1970s. �Is it to help you massacre citizens who may take up arms to fight you?�
No further information on the group, nor any comment from the Lao government, was immediately available. Vientiane authorities have repeatedly asserted that all of the attacks were planned outside of Laos.
Most recently, a spokesman for the Lao government, Kengchai Sisounonh, confirmed in an interview with RFA�s Lao service that a grenade attack had occurred Oct. 19 in Vientiane. He described the attack, near the Khoua Din evening market, as the result of a personal dispute. Other sources reported a second attack on the same day, Oct. 19, in southern Laos, at the Souvantxay market in Khanthabouly town, Savannakhet Province. The explosion killed two people and injured at least five. At least 10 people were injured in an explosion at a Vientiane bus station on Aug. 4.
On Sept. 4, two Lao nationals were jailed for life in connections with attacks in Vientiane from 2000-2001. Bunlot Senkeo and Thao Khonsavane were sentenced for "sabotaging national security" and "disturbing public order,� according to the Lao official media. Another defendant, Suonthao Khamtane, was handed a 14-month sentence for failing to report their crime to the authorities.
Analysts has said anti-government factions among the Hmong ethnic minority, exiled anti-communists, or disaffected members of the Lao military could be behind the attacks.
RFA broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo and Kham) and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance and fairness in its editorial content.#####