Vietnam man opens fire at town meeting, kills official over land dispute

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A government official was killed and four others were injured by a local man who allegedly shot them at their office on Wednesday, allegedly over land compensation disputes in Thai Binh Province.

The alleged culprit was later identified as Dang Ngoc Viet, 42, a daily wage laborer in Thai Binh Town.

Viet entered the office at around 2 p.m., spraying lead bullets from a Chinese-made revolver that struck two officials and three civil servants of the Thai Binh Town Land Development Center, said Nguyen Hai Truong, spokesman for the Thai Binh Town People's Committee.

All the victims were rushed to Thai Binh General Hospital. Victims with critical injuries were later transferred to the Hanoi's Viet Duc Hospital where the center's deputy director, Vu Ngoc Dung, 51, died from a head wound.

Civil servants Nguyen Thanh Duong, Vu Cong Cuong, Bui Duc Xuan also suffered head wounds. Another deputy director of the center, Pham Thi Lan Anh, sustained minor injuries.

Thai Binh Town People's Committee held a press conference at 6 p.m. to discuss the incident that same day.

"After committing the crime, Viet ran to the gate and fled on a motorbike. He is still at large," said Truong, 

According to witnesses, Viet immediately sought out the center's director. After being told the official was absent, he asked those present to identify the center's deputy director, Dung, before opening fire.

Colonel Nguyen Dinh Chung, deputy director of Thanh Binh Town police, said the crime was likely the result of disputes over site clearance compensation for Viet's field, not personal conflicts.

Viet refused the center's offer for another land plot and demanded cash compensation.

However, a local official wishing to remain anonymous said town authorities had accepted his demand and that tensions had eased.

Since then, Viet never complained, he claimed.

A source told Vietweek that Viet had quarreled with his neighbor before driving his motorbike to the Thai Binh Town People's Committee.

A police source told Vietweek that Viet later committed suicide at a pagoda in Thai Binh Province's Kien Xuong District, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Land disputes are common in Vietnam, where all land is owned by the state and usage rights are not always clear or protected. More than 70 percent of all public complaints lodged with authorities nationwide concern land.

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