Journalist set on fire while asleep at home

TN News

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A reporter from Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper remains in critical condition after an unidentified suspect set him on fire while he was asleep in his bed early Wednesday.

Family members rushed Le Hoang Hung to a hospital near his home in Long An Province with serious burns on sixty percent of his body.

Friends say that Hung had quarreled with his wife recently over whether or not to sell their home in Tan An Town's Ward 6 to cover outstanding debts.

The couple typically sleeps together in a front room on the second floor with an attached balcony with their youngest daughter. This evening, however, Hung slept alone there.

At around 1 a.m., someone set the 51-year-old journalist ablaze.

His wife Tran Thuy Lieu said she and her two daughters heard a knock on their bedroom door. When they opened it, she says, she saw her husband, "burning like a torch."

Lieu said she rushed Hung to a nearby bathroom to douse him with water. Half of his shorts had burned into ashes, she said.

Lieu's sister and next door neighbor, Tran Thuy Nga, said one of Hung's daughters called her for help.

Her husband climbed from his balcony to the second floor of Hung's house and encountered the horrifying scene. He rushed back to his home, grabbed a blanket, and smothered the flames that covered Hung's body.

Nga says she saw her husband taking Hung out of the house.

"He was still conscious and was saying he didn't have any enemies," she recalled, adding that Lieu and her two daughters were crying and hadn't contacted emergency services.

Hung's relatives called a taxi to take him to Long An Hospital. Doctors there then transferred him to Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City for emergency treatment. He arrived there around 3:30 a.m.

Lieu guessed that Hung had been lying on his side, facing a wall because the burns covered his back and hands. She also said he might have been doused with alcohol before being set on fire.

Police said they found a rope tied to the balcony on the second floor but it was too short to allow a suspect to enter from the ground floor.

Hung's father-in-law, Tran Van Men, said they found traces of a burnt canvas near the chicken cage adjacent to the victim's house. Police also collected a white lighter at the scene of the crime.

As of press time, police were still waiting at Cho Ray Hospital to collect information from Hung in case he regained consciousness.

The investigation is underway.

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