Football bet row ends with swords drawn, gunshots fired

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Brawlers pulled guns and knives in downtown Ho Chi Minh City Monday night after a fight broke out over football betting pool.

The sounds of gun fire started at around 8:30 p.m. at a corner of the East-West Highway in District 1.

According to eyewitnesses, one group had six young men on three motorbikes while the other had four on two motorbikes.

The first group had said they were there to "take care" of the other group for refusing to pay around VND100 million (US$5,350) after losing football bets, a 52-year-old local only identified as N.V.S. was quoted by local newswire Vietnamnet as saying Tuesday.

Three men from the first group drew three swords to attack the others near the highway. One member of the second group received cuts to his back and fell to the ground. When he got up, he ran to the other side of the road, pulled a gun, and fired shots, eyewitnesses said.

The gun-armed gang then began chasing the sword-wielders.

A second shot broke a window at a nearby restaurant.

"I've only seen things like this in gangster movies," S. told Vietnamnet.

Three shoots had been fired before the gun was thrown in the nearby Tau Hu canal. Another man in the gun-armed gang jumped into the river near the highway to swim to District 4, but the tide caught him and he couldn't make it. Local residents managed to catch him and the police caught the gunman later. They also found the gun early on Tuesday, with two bullets left inside.

Police have arrested five people for investigation. Two of them, Nguyen Van Hoang, 31, from the northern province of Thanh Hoa, and Nguyen Viet Hoa, 23, from Hai Phong, were from the gun-armed gang.

The others, Le Thanh Hung, 39, a District 1 local, Nguyen Tin Trung, 23, and another man only identified as Tien Trung, belonged to the sword-armed gang.

Tin Trung said Duong Phu Son, 30, also a District 1 local, had been the one who had started slashing people with his sword.

Police are looking for Son and the other men involved in the fight. The gunman's name has not yet been released.

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