30 arrested after fatal police, civilian clash in Hanoi

By Staff reporters   January 9, 2020 | 10:50 pm GMT+7
30 arrested after fatal police, civilian clash in Hanoi
Weapons the protestors at Dong Tam Village in Hanoi's My Duc District used to attack police forces on January 9, 2020. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

30 protestors were arrested in Hanoi Thursday following a deadly clash over lingering land disputes that killed three police officers and one civilian.

A statement on the Public Security Ministry’s website said that several people used grenades, petrol bombs and knives to attack police forces and disrupted public order at the Dong Tam Commune in My Duc District, 40 km (25 miles) south of the capital.

Three policemen and a civilian died and another person was injured, the ministry said.

Thursday’s clash happened a week after some units of the Ministry of National Defense, in collaboration with local authorities, began building a fence for the Mieu Mon Military Airport in Dong Tam, the Ministry of Public Security said.

Authorities used loudspeakers to warn protestors not to "push beyond the limit," but to no avail.

The attack on police forces was pre-meditated and the weapons used were prepared earlier, some of the arrested people reportedly told the police. One of them said they were led by a group of unidentified ringleaders on how to use the weapons.

Eight grenades, dozens of knives and 20 unused petrol bombs, among other weapons, were recovered at the scene.

At present, construction of the fence is being carried out in line with the land plan covering more than 236 hectares in communes of My Luong, Tran Phu, Dong Lac in Chuong My District and Dong Tam in My Duc District, said To An Xo, spokesman for the public security ministry.

The wall being built around Mieu Mon Military Airport in Dong Mon Commune, My Duc District, Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress.

The wall being built around Mieu Mon Military Airport in Dong Mon Commune, My Duc District, Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress.

The deadly clash was the latest incident in a long-standing dispute over the land. Protestors had said that they were not properly informed that the land was transferred to the military at some point. Generations of villages had been cultivating crops on an area of 50 hectares of 146 acres under dispute, paying land use fees and taxes to the government, they’d said.

Meanwhile, officials said the land belonged to the military.

Tension rose and came to a boil in February 2017, when military-owned telecom giant Viettel started work on building the airport.

Upset villagers then took 38 police officers and government officials hostage in a communal house to protest work on the military airport.

The standoff was resolved a week later, when Nguyen Duc Chung, Hanoi’s Chairman, visited the village and negotiated with the locals to obtain the release of the officials.

In early July 2017, local government inspectors announced that the land in Dong Tam has always belonged to the military. The inspectors also asked Hanoi police to work with the defense ministry to punish individuals for wrongful management and use of military land.

While land disputes are not uncommon in Vietnam, it is the first time in years that policemen and civilians have been killed in one.

A road running through Dong Tam Commune in My Duc District, Hanoi, January 9, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Viet Duc.

A road running through Dong Tam Commune in My Duc District, Hanoi, January 9, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Viet Duc.

 
 
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