Sleeping reporter firebombed in Long An

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A reporter was apparently targeted by an arson attack early Wednesday as he was sleeping in his home in the Mekong Delta province Long An.


Le Hoang Hung, a reporter of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborers) newspaper said that a fire engulfing his bed woke him at around 1 a.m. and he rushed out with his body engulfed in flames.


Doctors at the Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City said Hung suffered around 70 percent burns and is receiving special treatment as his condition is critical.


His wife Tran Thi Lieu had used a showerhead to douse Hung with water and rushed him to the Long An General Hospital.


Hung was transferred to the Cho Ray Hospital two hours later because the injuries were critical.


Lieu said she was sleeping with their children in a different room  when heard Hung cry out for help.


She said Hung had recently told her about messages from strange phone numbers threatening him.


The police, meanwhile, said the fire was likely to be caused by alcohol. They found a cloth string, a plastic bag in his room and the window wide open.


Nguyen Van Trach, deputy editor-in-chief of Nguoi Lao Dong, has arrived in Long An to follow up on investigations into the case.


"I myself do not know the cause of the incident. I'm waiting for the conclusion from the police. But I can say Hoang Hung is an enthusiastic reporter," Trach said.


A new decree issued by the government on January 6 levies fines of between VND20-30 million (US$1,025-1,537) on those who threaten reporters, or wilfully damage or steal their equipment and documents.


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