INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: "Bandit" Groups Raid Near Laos Border

Published: Fri 17 Sep 2004 09:20 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HANOI 002608
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
STATE FOR S/CT, DS, EAP/BCLTV, EAP/RSP
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PTER ASEC LA VM ETMIN
SUBJECT: "BANDIT" GROUPS RAID NEAR LAOS BORDER
1. (SBU) Summary: We have confirmed reports of clashes
between Vietnamese Border Army troops and small groups of
armed Hmong in western Nghe An province that have left two
dead since late July. The GVN published the story in the
newspaper but has declined to discuss it with us. End
Summary.
2. (SBU) The September 16 issue of Quan Doi Nhan Dan (The
People's Army Daily newspaper) carried a story on "recent
activities by illegal armed intruders" in Ky Son District,
Nghe An Province. AFP also had a September 16 report on the
same subject. According to the Quan Doi Nhan Dan story,
"groups of armed individuals" had entered the district and
either stolen food or forced local residents to sell them
food on five separate occasions (note: AFP reports eight
occasions. End note.) since July 26, 2004. The intruders
exchanged fire with Border Army forces, killing one officer
in late July. (The newspaper identified the Border Army
officer as Va Ba Giai, Control Team Leader, Border Check
Unit 551. An official at the Ky Son district People's
Committee confirmed for us the details of the newspaper
report, adding "skirmishes happen from time to time here.")
2. (U) The "criminals" identified in the QDND report were
armed with AK-47 and SKS small arms, and carried
"communication equipment" (NFI). Their rice purchases were
as high as 400 kilograms. Incidents occurred on July 26,
August 8, August 18, and September 3. On September 11, an
"augmented" Border Army force killed one "criminal"
(identified as Gia Ba Va, aged 18) and captured three
others, then captured another group of three. The six are
now in detention at the Border Army headquarters.
3. (SBU) The Ky Son district People's Committee official we
talked to (who declined to give his name) called the groups
"bandits from Laos" and said they had been entering Vietnam
illegally because of pressure from the Lao army. The AFP
report quoted Border Army sources saying the groups were
"rebels."
4. (SBU) Comment: GVN interlocutors are not talking to us
about this issue yet, possibly because of the sensitivity
and the involvement of Laos. The local Ky Son official was
willing to talk to us because the USG funds a large crop
substitution project in the area through UNODC, but he would
not go so far as to give us his name. The communes in the
district of Ky Son where these incidents occurred are
entirely Hmong, as are the areas just on the other side of
the border in Laos. The names of both the "criminal" and
the Border Army officer who were killed are Hmong. End
Comment.
MARINE
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