Vietnam official guns down 2 provincial leaders before shooting himself

By VnExpress   August 17, 2016 | 09:46 pm PT
A local forestry official shoots dead the provincial Party chief and legislature chairman.

In what was an unprecedented fatal shooting that has rocked Vietnam, an official allegedly shot dead two leaders of a northern mountainous province before killing himself on Thursday.

According to investigators, at around 7 a.m., before a regular meeting of the People’s Council in Yen Bai Province, Do Cuong Minh, director of the local Forest Protection Agency, arrived at the office of Pham Duy Cuong, the chief of the provincial Communist Party Unit, and shot him with a K59 pistol Minh was deputized to possess. (Vietnam outlaws civilian gun ownership.)

Minh then moved on to the office of Ngo Ngoc Tuan, chairman of the provincial People's Council and head of the committee tasked with personnel matters, and repeated the act. Minh also shot himself there, Pham Thi Thanh Tra, the province's mayor, said at a press conference packed with reporters on Thursday afternoon.


Pham Duy Cuong, the chief of the provincial Communist Party Unit. File photo

The victims were rushed to hospital in critical conditions with multiple shots to the head, chest and abdomen. Minh is said to have shot himself in the head.

All three men have succumbed to their injuries.

Police have launched a full investigation, and the incident has set the Vietnamese media abuzz. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has also arrived in Yen Bai to instruct investigative work, calling the incident "extremely serious".

At the press conference, the authorities sidestepped questions about the motives of the shooting. Dang Tran Chieu, the director of the provincial police department, said they would announce the cause of murder later.


Ngo Ngoc Tuan, chairman of the provincial People's Council. File photo

Cuong, 58, was reelected as Yen Bai’s Party chief last October. Tuan, 52, was installed as chairman of the provincial legislature in June.

Minh, 53, has been director of the Forest Protection Agency since 2014. He is the son-in-law of a former Party chief of Yen Bai.

"He was a well-mannered and responsible forestry official," Tra, the mayor, said. "In my opinion, he might have committed shooting out of control.

Tra also dismissed speculation that the shooting was driven by a plan to merge Minh's agency with another one as part of the political reshuffle underway in the province.


Do Cuong Minh, director of the local Forest Protection Agency. File photo

Yen Bai, a province of nearly 800,000, is home to several ethnic minorities and is heavily covered by forests. It is around 160 kilometers (100 miles) to the northwest of Hanoi.

According to media reports, the province has been plagued by widespread deforestation, a hot-button issue Minh's agency was tasked with addressing.

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