Three policemen and a civilian were killed Thursday in a clash at a controversial military airport construction site in Hanoi.
A road running through Dong Tam Commune in My Duc District, Hanoi, January 9, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Viet Duc.
The clash took place 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 Village, My Duc District, 40 km (25 miles) south of the capital, the Ministry of Public Security said.
“On Thursday morning, some people resisted, using hand-grenades, petrol bombs and knives to attack police forces, fighting officers on duty and disrupting public order,” the ministry said on its website. As a result, three policemen and a civilian died and another person was injured.
“Authorities have launched an investigation into the case and have arrested the lawbreakers,” the ministry said.
To An Xo, spokesman of Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security, said the incident in Dong Tam was under control and police forces continue to be present at the scene to maintain stability.
Regarding the number of people arrested, Xo said an announcement would be made later.
At present, construction of the fence is being carried out in line with the land plan covering more than 236 hectares in communes of: My Luong, Tran Phu, Dong Lac in Chuong My District and Dong Tam in My Duc District, Xo said.
The wall being built around Mieu Mon military airport in Dong Mon Commune, My Duc District, Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress.
The land in question has been a subject of major controversy and a long-standing dispute.
Protestors have said that they were not properly informed that the land was transferred to the military at some point. Generations of villages had been cultivating crops on an area of 50 hectares of 146 acres under dispute, paying land use fees and taxes to the government, they’d said.
In mid-April 2017, Hanoi police detained four people from Dong Tam Village for allegedly breaking land-use regulations.
Upset villagers then took 38 police officers and government officials hostage in a communal house to protest work on the military airport.
According to the authorities, the dispute had been lingering for years and came to a boil in February 2017, when military-owned telecom giant Viettel started work on building the airport.
While villagers said it was their agricultural land, officials said the land belonged to the military.
The standoff was resolved a week later, when Nguyen Duc Chung, Hanoi’s Chairman, visited the village and negotiated with the locals to obtain the release of the officials.
In early July 2017, local government inspectors announced that the land in Dong Tam Village in My Duc District has always belonged to the military. The inspectors also asked Hanoi police to work with the defense ministry to punish individuals for wrongful management and use of military land.
While land disputes are not uncommon in Vietnam, it is the first time in years that policemen have been killed in one.