In an abrupt volte-face, police in a northern Vietnamese province said a criminal investigation is underway after two provincial leaders were shot to death by another official Thursday.
Maj Gen Dang Tran Chieu, director of the Yen Bai Department of Public Security, told Thanh Nien that the investigation aimed to find out the shooter's motives.
Chieu's announcement came just seven hours after he said at a press conference, citing the Penal Code, that no investigation was planned because the shooter killed himself after the shooting.
But he made an about-face later, saying a study of the crime scene showed "sufficient basis" to warrant the probe.
The shooting of the two senior officials, which Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said "had never happened anywhere in Vietnam", took place at about 7.45 a.m. Thursday in the Yen Bai town Party Committee building.
Do Cuong Minh, head of the forest rangers office, allegedly shot Pham Duy Cuong, secretary of the Party Committee, and Ngo Ngoc Tuan, chairman of the People's Council, in their respective offices. Minh then shot himself in the head.
Pham Duy Cuong, secretary of Yen Bai Province Party's committee (L), and Ngo Ngoc Tuan, chairman of the province People's Council, were shot dead Aug. 18.
The People's Council is the elected legislature while the Party Committee plays various roles, from decision-making to consulting, in making policies and nominating candidates for senior positions, including that of People's Council leaders.
According to Chieu, Minh used his duty pistol in the shooting.
The three men were rushed to Yen Bai General Hospital, but Cuong and Tuan succumbed to gunshot wounds in their head, chest and abdomen and were pronounced dead at 1.30 p.m.
Minh was confirmed dead two hours later.
In the wake of the unprecedented shooting, a government working group led by Phuc went to Yen Bai Thursday.
Phuc ordered the Ministry of Public Security to work with the Yen Bai police to investigate the case "in a detailed and legal manner."
The outcome would be reported to related authorities and made public, he said.