LAO GROUP THREATENS MORE SERIOUS VIOLENCE


2003.11.03
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Says it was behind latest bombing

A group calling itself the Free Democratic People's (Underground) Government of Laos has claimed responsibility for the latest explosion in Laos and threatened �more serious violence� in the absence of democratic change, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

Lao officials initially described the blast in central Vientiane late Oct. 31 as a gas tank explosion, �although everyone in the country knew that it was a bomb,� the group said in a statement dated Nov. 1 and faxed to RFA�s Lao service in Bangkok. No one was killed or injured in the blast, the third in Laos in the month of October. It occurred in the early evening Friday near the Patouxay monument in central Vientiane. 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.

�All the bomb explosions... this time, as in the past, have been carried out by [Lao] people,� it said. �We have already warned that unless power is returned to the people and the Vietnamese are driven out of Lao territory, we, the people, will carry out more serious violence.�

�We have been oppressed for the past 28 years by... [this] party-state. Almost all of Laos�s precious resources have been sold by the Comrades� party-state. The Lao PDR government should not hide the truth and deceive the people, and it should not suspect anyone else: The people plant the bombs and the government must be solely held accountable,� it said. �Let the Lao people unify, let Lao people govern Lao people, stop cutting down trees, stop selling the precious resources of Laos to foreigners at once, and remove the Vietnamese troops disguised as laborers all over Laos... completely and as soon as possible."

�We the people claim responsibility for all the bombings, past and present. We, the people of multi-ethnic Laos, Lao people of all walks of life in Laos, have unanimously formed an underground Free Democratic People�s Government to dismantle the cruel and barbarian regime of the ruling Lao People's Revolutionary Party. We ask foreigners to keep monitoring the accomplishments of the multi-ethnic Lao living inside Laos.�

A Lao Foreign Ministry spokesman, Sodom Phetrasy, told RFA on Monday that �a bad-intended individual left a very small bomb in a trash can� near the Patouxay monument. �No one was hurt. There was no damage, except the mangled trashcan.�

�We do not have any reaction, since we don't know who they really are. They can claim all they want... We will know who they are when we catch them red-handed," he said.

On Oct. 27, RFA�s Lao service received a one-page fax purportedly from the same group claiming responsibility for a series of explosions that have killed four people and injured dozens of others since 2000. No one had previously claimed responsibility for the attacks.

"The [Lao] government should stop blaming outsiders for these bombings. We are responsible,� said the statement, apparently faxed 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?�

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 have 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. #####

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