Police in southern Vietnam say they're still investigating a number of criminal gangs that looted factories, burned down warehouses and fomented disorder during last week's demonstrations at industrial parks throughout the south.
Binh Duong Province police said many of the rioters are members of criminal gangs that they've been tracking for some time; most of the suspects in custody have already confessed to their illegal acts.
A number of local residents who took advantage of the chaos to steal property from vandalized foreign companies have returned the stolen goods to police, offering apologies and deep regret for their participation in the events.
On May 13-14, peaceful demonstrations took place across Vietnam as people from all walks of life took to streets to protest China's deployment of a US$1-billion oil rig in Vietnam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone in early this month.
But some cashed in on the demonstrations to instigate the workers to torch up to Chinese-owned factories and other foreign businesses, mostly Taiwanese, mistaken for being Chinese in central and southern Vietnam last week.
The riots led to vandalism and looting of those factories, prompting Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to send a text message last weekend to millions of citizens, urging them to defend the country's sovereignty with actions in line with the law..
"Bad elements should not be allowed to instigate extremist actions that are detrimental to the interests and image of the country," the text message said.
Over 1,000 people have been arrested for rioting in central and southern Vietnam.
Police in Binh Duong’s Thuan An and Di An towns said they've seized thousands of stolen items a day since May 14.
On Sunday, police in Dong Nai Province say they're still detaining 318 people, of whom 29 face charges of “causing public disorder” and “robbery.”
Most of the detained people are not workers, according to police. They just took advantage of the oil rig protests to commit arson and loot companies based in industrial parks.
Companies in industrial parks across Dong Nai have resumed operation since May 15, after police beefed up security.
On Sunday the local government issued a decision that bans residents from organizing spontaneous street demonstrations which may “cause disorder and tarnish the image of Vietnam in the eyes of international friends.”
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