Several newspapers are pushing for an investigation into an assault on four reporters in a village in Quang Ngai Province.
The reporters were employed by Vietnam News Agency, Nong Thon Ngay Nay (Rural Today), and the Tuoi Tre and Quang Ngai Newspaper.
The group says they were attacked by a local man after traveling to Nam Phuoc Village in Tu Nghia District on Tuesday to look into unlicensed excavation work.
The reporters said they were following up on calls from residents of the village.
Vietnam News Agency filed a complaint with the provincial government saying the reporters were attacked while driving to a local government office to answer questions.
They suffered injuries before three local police officers arrived to rescue them.
Ha Minh Dinh, a reporter and chairman of the Quang Ngai Journalists’ Association, said his colleagues in Quang Ngai were all “furious” about the assault.
Dinh said the association considered the case a “serious” example of the mortal danger that journalists face in the course of doing their work.
A swift and righteous punishment is needed, he said.
Reporter Nguyen Hoang Chi Cong of Rural Today said he still felt unsafe, Wednesday, more than 24-hours after the attack..
“The attacker was very aggressive and meant to kill us,” Cong said. “Even after the police arrived, he still picked up a stone to throw at us and threatened to send people to kill our families.”
Lt. Col. Le Van Hop, head of the district police department's Drug and Social Crimes Division, said they have identified the attacker as Bach Ngoc Tuyen, a 34-year-old local employee of the Thanh Dat company, which has been excavating sand in the area without a permit.
Thanh Dat won a public contract for the excavation on June 27, but the plan was still being considered by local officials when the company began work.
Tuyen admitted to stopping the reporters and beating and kicking them with his hands and feet.
Ton Long Can, chairman of Nghia Thuan Commune, said local officials have ordered the company to remove all its equipment and staff from the site until it has received the requisite permit.
Can said the company continues to collect money who come and collect sand at their work site by the wagon-load.
Can said the sand theft occurred at night and has proven difficult to police.
The visiting reporters, however, said it went on in broad daylight without a single government official in sight.