BANGKOK (AFP) - Six Chinese nationals were wounded after gunmen opened fire on a bus in Laos, state media reported Thursday (March 24), the third shadowy attack this year on China's citizens in the Southeast Asian country.
The shooting took place north of the tourist hotspot Vang Vieng late Wednesday as the bus carried 28 people from Kunming in southwestern China to the Laos capital, China's Xinhua news agency reported citing an embassy statement.
The driver managed to steer the bus to safety despite being shot himself, the report said, adding the wounded were receiving treatment at a local hospital.
The report did not give details on the severity of the injuries.
It is the third time in three months that mysterious attackers have targeted Chinese in the fellow Communist nation, which shares a border with its massive northern neighbour.
A Chinese national was killed and three others wounded earlier this month on property belonging to a Chinese-backed company in Luang Prabang province, which borders the area where Wednesday's shooting took place.
In January a suspected bomb attack killed two Chinese nationals in another nearby province, prompting a travel warning from the US embassy in Vientiane.
Neither Laos nor China's Communist leaders have offered a motive for the assaults.
The mountainous region where the attacks have taken place have historically hosted insurgencies waged by ethnic minorities against Laos' repressive one-party state.
But Beijing's growing footprint in the poor nation has also stirred unease among locals in recent years.
China has invested heavily in Laos and capitalised on its bountiful water, forestry and mineral resources.
While this flood of foreign investment has fuelled impressive economic growth in the landlocked country over the past decade, the gains have not been evenly distributed and poverty remains widespread.
Normally isolated Laos will open its doors to host President Barack Obama later this year as the culmination of its chairmanship of the ASEAN regional bloc.