Vietnamese authorities are searching for at least four people who are suspected of killing three forestry workers and injuring 15 other people in an attack that may have been spurred by a land grab, RFA’s Vietnamese Service has learned.
The attack, that also injured 15 people, took place on Sunday morning in the Central Highland province of Dak Nong, where employees of the Long Son Limited Company were attempting to clear forestland in the area, according to local media.
Workers were attempting to clear a site in the Tuy Duc district when a group of local people hurled insults at the workers and blocked them from clearing a site that a local family was cultivating.
The situation apparently escalated when four people opened fire on the workers using shotguns or homemade firearms. Three of the workers were killed and 15 were injured, with three in critical condition, according to a VnExpress International report.
While the motive is unclear, land-use disputes in Vietnam and other Asian countries have been a source of friction and caused violent clashes before.
Seizure of land for development—often without due process or fair compensation for displaced residents— is a major cause of protests in Vietnam and other authoritarian Asian countries, including China, Cambodia and Laos.
Le Dien, the Communist Party chief in Dak Nong, told RFA he had no information on the shooting, but a local man said the news had spread.
“I know of the incident. Three people died,” he said. “They say the land belongs to them, but the company evicted them.”
Doan Van Vuon, a victim of a 2012 forceful eviction in Hai Phong, told RFA he understands what drove the people to shoot.
“I think there must be something that pushed the people to this negative reaction because this is their asset, and they did it for their own livelihood,” he said. “They had no other way out.”
Doan Van Vuon was jailed for five years for his part in the armed resistance to the eviction. In his case, no one was killed, although four police officers and two soldiers were seriously wounded.
“I was in the same situation, but I used to be in the military so I know how to use guns, and I could control it to avoid any killing,” he said. “Unfortunately, this case led to three deaths. The shooters did not want this, but they could not control it and some people were killed.”
Reported by RFA's Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Brooks Boliek,