Police in the northern province of Hoa Binh have arrested six people out of 100 who allegedly abducted seven local officials in protest against a mining project earlier this month.
Col Pham Van Su, deputy director of the province police, said the six were among 20 who had indulged in "extreme" acts during the protests and that more would be arrested soon.
They would face charges of abduction, he said.
The police have also started investigating alleged violations in the mining project, he said.
On October 8 some people from Boi Cau village in Kim Boi District abducted five environmental police officers and one official as they tried to talk them out of demonstrating against local authorities’ handling of sand and rock mining in Boi River.
The officials were tied up and kept captive for about 15 minutes, but were not beaten, Bui Viet Hung, deputy chairman of Kim Boi Commune, told Thanh Nien.
A day earlier the villagers had taken Bui Van Dung, the village head, captive, but he managed to free himself.
Major General Bui Duc Son, director of the Hoa Binh police, told Thanh Nien that the problem started because of conflicts over profit sharing between relatives of Bui Dang Phao, head of the Kim Boi commune police.
In August Boi Cau village authorities allowed sand and rocks to be mined in the river to raise public funds.
Bui Duc Hai, Phao’s son-in-law, and several others were contracted to do the mining for VND90 million (US$54,200) in total.
On October 2 the miners brought bulldozers and equipment to the river though commune and district was yet to be obtained.
Upset that they did not get a share of the project, Phao’s brothers incited some local people to go to the site and seize the equipment, Son said.
When the officials came to the site to stop the protest, the brothers told people that they had come to seize the evidence to cover up, and angry villagers then abducted the officials, he said.
Among the six arrested are Phao’s brothers Bui Van Tuoi and Bui Van Hao
Son said the police had recommended that local authorities should dismiss Phao and some other officials for letting personal interests interfere with their handling of the case.
Earlier, in an interview to Thanh Nien, a local had accused the miners of digging for gold and not sand and rocks.
Villagers had caught people illegally mining for gold in the river on many occasions and causing deep craters in its bed.
In a report to its superiors, the Kim Boi District people’s committee said people in Boi Cau were also upset about the way local authorities handled some other issues.
Investigations are continuing.
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