4 arrested for Samsung factory riot in Vietnam

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Motorbikes belonging to security guards burned by workers during a melee at the construction site of a US$3.2-billion Samsung hi-tech complex in Thai Nguyen Province on January 9. Photo by Ha An

Police in Thai Nguyen Province have arrested four suspects for involvement in a fracas that broke out a week earlier between security guards and workers at the construction site of a multi-million dollar Samsung complex.

Their identities have yet to be revealed.

A senior official of the Pho Yen District police department told news website VnExpress on the condition of anonymity Thursday that his agency is still identifying other suspects.

They are all suspected of injuring security guards, destroying their property and opposing police officers who quelled the clash, he said.

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According to a report by the Thai Nguyen People's Committee to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, the fight, which occurred at the Yen Binh Industrial Zone in Pho Yen at around 7 a.m. January 9, involved thousands of construction workers.

Construction of Samsung's US$3.2-billion hi-tech complex, reportedly the South Korean electronics giant's largest mobile phone factory in the world, started at the zone last March.

The report said some workers showed up late for work and insisted on entering the site, but the guards stopped them in accordance with regulations, provoking a quarrel between the two sides.

The quarrel then led to an all-out melee with thousands of workers attacked and threw rocks at the guards as they thought that the guards had beaten their colleague(s) to death.

As the guards ran to hide, 11 of them hid in three containers, which were being used as guardrooms, but the workers surrounded them and threw rocks at them.

The workers burned down the containers and 22 motorbikes belonging to the guards.

Police saved the 11 injured guards and took them out of the containers at around 9 a.m. They were able to suppress the fight after 10 a.m., according to the report.

Meanwhile, witnesses told Thanh Nien that the problem began when a construction worker was stopped by a group of guards from bringing his meal into the site.

The guards then stomped on his meal and threatened to assault him.

Another worker intervened, and he too had a quarrel with the guards. They reportedly beat the worker with a club, causing the former to lose consciousness.

Enraged, many other workers attacked the guards with rocks and sticks, burning down the containers and motorbikes.

When hundreds of police officers arrived to suppress the fight, the workers threw rocks at them.

Thirteen people, including the 11 guards and two police officers, were hospitalized.

Police announced that same day that they would probe for evidence on charges of "deliberately injuring others," "causing public disorder" and "destroying property."

They said they are waiting for the results of the damage estimation, VnExpress reported.

The district police also set up a station with about 20 mobile police officers to maintain security at the site, it reported.

Many witnesses said conflicts between the workers and the guards at the construction site have been ongoing and the fracas on January 9 was just the final straw.

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