U.S. Urges Laos to Probe Massacre Reports

The State Department said Monday it is taking seriously allegations that Laotian military forces may have massacred children of the country's Hmong (search) ethnic minority.

Deputy spokesman Adam Ereli urged the Laotian government to investigate the reports.

"We have consistently called for the Lao government to respect the rights of its ethnic minorities and pressed the government to resolve this problem in a humanitarian and peaceful way," he said.

Ereli said the U.S. government has not seen a videotape showing the aftermath of the reported attack.

Laos (search) has denied the reports and said the evidence was not credible enough to warrant an investigation. A Laotian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the video purporting to show the victims was fabricated.

Amnesty International (search) has accused government troops of carrying out war crimes in attacks on five unarmed youths, age 13-16, in central Laos last May.

The London-based human rights group said it had seen and heard credible evidence that the youths, members of a Hmong rebel group, "were brutally mutilated ... by a group of approximately 30-40 soldiers."