HANOI, Vietnam – Vietnamese security forces quashed a rare protest of hundreds of ethnic Hmong Christians calling for an independent state, officials said Thursday.
Giang Thi Hoa, vice president of the People's Committee in Dien Bien province, said the situation was brought under control after several days. She did not provide more details.
Another People's Committee official said the Hmong were calling for a separate state and that people living outside Vietnam were believed to be orchestrating the demonstrations. The official was identified only as Bac because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Police said no arrests were made. No information was available on whether any Hmong were hurt or killed in the clash near the northwest border with Laos.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said the Hmong from Muong Nhe district began gathering since May 1 after hearing a rumor that a supernatural force would appear to bring the people to the promised land where they would find health, happiness and wealth.
"Taking advantage of the situation, the sabotage forces stimulated people to call for an independent state, causing public disorder in the district," Nga said in a statement.
Security forces crushed similar uprisings among ethnic hilltribe members, collectively known as Montagnards, in Vietnam's restive Central Highlands in 2004 and 2001, resulting in a flood of refugees fleeing to neighboring Cambodia.