Vietnamese village holds police, officials hostage over land dispute

Vietnamese village holds police, officials hostage over land dispute

A total of 32 people, including police officers, local officials and journalists, are being held at the communal house of the village in rural Hanoi.

HANOI: Villagers in the rural My Duc district of Hanoi held 32 people hostage for a third consecutive day on Monday (Apr 17) over an alleged land dispute.

Those held include police officers, but local officials and journalists are also among those confined to the village's communal house.

The stand-off started on Saturday in My Duc's Dong Tam commune after police clashed with village residents who said that local officials have seized their farmland for conversion to military use.

Police had arrested nine villagers on Saturday morning, including an 83-year-old village elder who has since gone on hunger strike, a villager told Channel NewsAsia on condition of anonymity.

In the ensuing scuffle, villagers captured the police officers and detained them at the communal house.

All roads to the village are now barricaded, manned by young men to prevent police and outsiders from entering.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the villagers want all nine detained residents to be released in exchange for the hostages.

They are believed to be frustrated with the situation and are calling for the central authorities in Hanoi to intervene in the land dispute.

Dong Tam is a farming commune about two hours' drive from Hanoi. (Photo: Tan Qiuyi)

According to the villager, the disputes are being handled by corrupt local officials.

Hanoi authorities have since appealed for the hostages to be released, calling on villagers to stand on the right side of the law.

Land disputes are not uncommon in developing Vietnam, where large tracts of agricultural land continue to be turned over for commercial and infrastructure projects.

But violent and prolonged stand-offs between authorities and farmers are rare.

Source: CNA/am