Six Chinese hurt in gun attack on bus in Laos

It is third time this year mysterious attackers have targeted China's citizens in the country

BANGKOK • Six Chinese nationals were hurt after gunmen opened fire on a bus in Laos, state media reported yesterday, the third shadowy attack this year on China's citizens in the South-east Asian country.

The shooting took place north of the tourist hot spot Vang Vieng late on Wednesday as the bus was carrying 28 people from Kunming in south-western China to the Laotian capital, Vientiane, 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 that the wounded were receiving treatment at a local hospital. It did not give details on the severity of the injuries.

This is the third time in three months that mysterious attackers have targeted Chinese in the fellow communist country, 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 bomb attack killed two Chinese nationals in another nearby province, prompting a travel warning from the United States 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 has 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.

The normally isolated Laos will open its doors to host US President Barack Obama later this year as the culmination of its chairmanship of the Asean regional bloc.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline 'Six Chinese hurt in gun attack on bus in Laos'. Print Edition | Subscribe