Probe launched into fatal police-civilian clash in Hanoi

By Ba Do, Vo Hai, Gia Chinh   January 10, 2020 | 04:05 am PT
Probe launched into fatal police-civilian clash in Hanoi
Bottles of gasoline are recovered following a clash between police and civilians in Dong Tam Village, Hanoi, January 9, 2020. Photo courtesy of the police.
An investigation has been launched into Thursday’s deadly clash over a land dispute that left three policemen and a civilian dead in Hanoi.

The investigation will cover charges of murder, storing and using illegal weapons, and resisting law enforcement, Hanoi police said Friday.

30 protestors were arrested Thursday following the clash that occurred in Dong Tam Commune, My Duc District, 40 km (25 miles) south of the capital city. 

Several people used grenades, petrol bombs and knives to attack police forces and disrupted public order, the Ministry of Public Security said in a website statement. Eight grenades, dozens of knives and 20 unused petrol bombs, among other weapons, were recovered at the scene.

As of Friday, the situation in Dong Tam has been "stabilized," said To An Xo, spokesman for the public security ministry.

Barricades have been erected on the provincial road 429, about 5 km away from Dong Tam. Stores on either side of the road have been closed. People wishing to enter or leave Dong Tam need to show identification papers.

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.

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

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. Officials however said the land belonged to the military.

In April 2017 the Hanoi police detained four people from Dong Tam Commune for allegedly causing public disorder related to land clearance in their commune. Protesting villagers then held 38 district officials and police officers hostage in a communal house.

The standoff was resolved a week later, but in July 2017 Hanoi investigators said the land in Dong Tam had always belonged to the military.

They proposed that city authorities should instruct the My Duc District People’s Committee to "coordinate with military units to deploy decisive measures forcing citizens occupying military lands illegally to remove their assets and crops and return the land for Viettel to implement defence projects."

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