3 arrested for brutally killing loggers in Vietnam

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Two Vietnamese men and a Lao have been arrested for allegedly battering to death five Vietnamese in a forest along the border between the two countries when the latter were hunting for rare wood on March 23.

Ho Van Nguyen, 24, an ethnic Vietnamese and a Lao national, was arrested Thursday in a village in Laos' Savannakhet Province, Col. Nguyen Dinh Ha, deputy chief of the Quang Tri Province border guards, told Thanh Nien.

The arrest was made by the Lao police, he said.

Two days earlier Ho Van Cong, 37, and Ho Van Thanh, 39, were apprehended in Quang Tri.

Tien Phong (Pioneer) newspaper quoted Senior Lieutenant Colonel Le Quang Cong of the Quang Tri police as saying that to extradite him from Laos they need to obtain permission from the Ministry of Public Security.

Cong told Thanh Nien that the three men had captured seven timber loggers and demanded a ransom of VND15 million (US$713.83) each.

They released one of them to return home and get the money.

But later that day, when the person failed to return, they decided to kill the rest, he said.

He quoted the suspects as telling the police that they took the loggers one by one for execution.

They tied the hands, got each to kneel down, and battered them on the head until they died. They then buried all of them.

One of the hostages, Do Van Hien, managed to escape while the killings were going on.

The men confessed to often capturing people going into the forest to look for calambac the dark resinous heartwood that forms in agar wood trees when they become infected with a type of mold and mushrooms and demanding ransom.

Nguyen said he had been contacted by Cong and Thanh and asked to join their criminal enterprise because he had a rifle.

The police are investigating.

Calambac fetches premium prices because it is believed to bring good luck and have the capacity to cure some otherwise incurable diseases.

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