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January 16, 2024

Vietnam tries 100 people for terrorism after gun attacks

Vietnam tries 100 people for terrorism after gun attacks

This photo taken and released by the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) on January 16, 2024 shows defendants sitting during their trial in Vietnam’s Dak Lak province. Nearly 100 people belonging to ethnic minority groups went on trial in Vietnam on November 16, 2023, accused of “terrorism” following gun attacks that killed nine in the country’s Central Highlands. (Photo by Vietnam News Agency / AFP) / —- IMAGE PIXELATED AT SOURCE —-

Nearly 100 people belonging to ethnic minority groups went on trial in Vietnam Tuesday, accused of terrorism following gun attacks that killed nine in the country’s Central Highlands.

In the early morning of June 11 last year, a group of people riding motorbikes used guns and other weapons to attack the local political headquarters and police offices in the Cu Kuin district of Dak Lak province.

Individuals are not allowed to own firearms in Vietnam and gun violence is extremely rare.

Nine people were killed, including four police officers, two local officials and three civilians.

Tuesday’s trial, at the prison where the accused are being held, saw 98 people charged with terrorism, one with hiding criminals and the other with intermediating illegal immigration, state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

Six of the accused are being tried in absentia, and are under international arrest warrants.

“The case was especially serious… with the terrorists aiming to overthrow the state, to establish the so-called Dega state,” H’Yim Kdoh, deputy chair of Dak Lak People’s Committee, said according to the Tuoi Tre report.

The Dega are one of the ethnic minority groups from Vietnam’s Central Highlands, an area that has long been a hotbed of discontent over issues that include land rights.

Communist authorities refer to followers of Protestantism in the Central Highlands as “Dega Protestants” — a group seeking autonomy from the state and is linked to Montagnard political exiles in the United States.

Montagnards — the collective name for various tribes in the area — sided with the US-backed south during Vietnam’s decades-long war. Some are also calling for more autonomy, while others abroad advocate independence for the region.

According to Tuoi Tre, H’Yim said that during the investigation the defendants confessed to the charges, but said they had been forced into the attack.

Police confiscated a total of 23 guns and rifles, two grenades, 1,199 bullets and other explosive devices following the attacks, which they described as “barbaric and inhumane”.

The trial was scheduled for 10 days.

Punishment for terrorist offences in Vietnam can include the death penalty.

AFP