Two others have been arrested and placed under criminal investigation for resisting law enforcement officers, while another four have been detained on the same charges, according to a statement by the Ministry of Public Security.
All the suspects are residents of Dong Tam Commune in My Duc District, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of downtown Hanoi.
Le Dinh Kinh, the civilian who died in the clash, has been determined to be the mastermind behind the acts of causing disturbance and resisting the authorities over a long-standing land dispute.
Kinh’s son Le Dinh Cong, who is among the suspects arrested for murder, has admitted to spending over VND30 million ($1,300) on gasoline and weapons, as well as leading the protest actions by throwing rocks, petrol bombs and grenades, according to national broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV).
As of Monday morning, four days after the clash, all roads leading to the area around Hoanh Village in Dong Tam Commune were still blocked, and barricades were still placed on provincial road 429, over 4 kilometers from Dong Tam.
Additionally, three police checkpoints have been set up along roads leading to the rear part of Hoanh Village and another two on the path to the local cemetery, about 1-2 kilometers from the village.
Police officers have been stationed in Dong Tam to “ensure safety,” said Major General To An Xo, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Security.
One of the people arrested and placed under criminal investigation for resisting law enforcement officers in a clash with Hanoi police on January 9, 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Television (VTV).
Last Thursday’s clash happened a week after some units of the Ministry of National Defense, in collaboration with local authorities, began building a fence for the Mieu Mon Military Airport in Dong Tam Commune, the public security ministry said.
A group of about 30 locals planned to oppose the authorities’ construction work.
On Thursday morning, armed police officers entered Hoanh Village and a clash with a group of locals broke out near Kinh’s house. Several people used grenades, petrol bombs and knives to attack police forces, killing three police officers, according to a statement by the Ministry of Public Security. Alleged ring leader Kinh also died during the clash.
Further details of the clash have yet to be revealed and the area has been cordoned off and access limited.
Protestors have said that they were not properly informed that the land was transferred to the military at some point, while officials maintained that the land belonged to the military.
Tension rose and came to a boil in February 2017, when military-owned telecom giant Viettel started work on building the airport. Upset villagers then took 38 police officers and government officials hostage in a communal house to protest work on the military airport.
The standoff was resolved a week later, but in July 2017, local government inspectors announced that the land in Dong Tam Commune in My Duc District has always belonged to the military.
While land disputes are not uncommon in Vietnam, it is the first time in decades that policemen and civilians have been killed in one.
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