Friday , June 21 2024

Man forced to join deadly Central Highlands attacks

Fearing for his family’s safety, a man joined the deadly attacks on two People’s Committee offices in Dak Lak Province after being threatened, his wife said.

H’Nguil Ayui, 32, sat quietly in front of her modest house located deep in a coffee farm 50 km from the Ea Tieu and Ea Ktur Commune People’s Committee offices in Cu Kuin District Thursday afternoon.

The two offices have been in the headlines for the past week following deadly attacks there last Sunday.

Speaking of her husband, who has been identified as one of the suspects in the attacks, Nguil could not hold back her tears.

Nguil and Y Pheo Nie, 31, married in 2009 and now have two kids aged 10 and 12. They are both Ede ethnic people.

Life has been hard as they earn only meager wages working on the coffee farm. Pheo has also worked odd jobs as a porter and mason.

Two weeks ago, Pheo started acting differently, Nguil said. In his free time, he started gathering with a group of people, but Nguil had no idea what they talked about. Her husband told her nothing about what he was up to.

Then Pheo left the house without telling her. He also took the only mobile phone in the house with him.

On June 11, Nguil learned that many people had been killed at the two commune offices that morning.

Her neighbors showed her videos of the incident online and Nguil saw her husband holding guns and weapons with the group of attackers.

“I was scared and I called the authorities and tried every way I could to find Pheo but couldn’t. His family and mine were not at ease that day.”

On the night of June 12, Pheo returned home. He panicked and retreated to a corner in the house.

“He told me he is now aware of his wrongdoings. When the police came, he ran away.”

Nguil said her husband told her he had been coerced into joining the attack. The masterminds of the attack said if he refused, “your entire family will be shot dead.”

Nguil encouraged Pheo to turn himself in, and he did so the next morning.

H’Nguil Ayui cries as she tells how her husband joined the deadly attacks in Dak Lak Province, June 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

H’Nguil Ayui cries as she tells how her husband joined the deadly attacks in Dak Lak Province, June 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

Last Sunday, an unidentified group of people with guns attacked the two commune offices early in the dark hours of the morning.

Four police officers, two commune officials and three civilians were killed. Two other officers were injured. It is uncertain whether or not any of the attackers were injured or killed.

The attacks started at around 0:35 a.m., when 10 armed suspects entered the People’s Committee office in Ea Tieu. Major Tran Quoc Thang and Captain Ha Tuan Anh were killed there in the line of duty.

The group then stopped a pick-up truck on National Highway 27, about 1.5 km from the office, and killed the driver.

At the same time, 30 other armed people attacked the People’s Committee office in Ea Ktur. They threatened a truck driver and forced him to block the road. They threw a Molotov cocktail into the truck, then entered the office and burned documents and a car.

Major Hoang Trung and Captain Nguyen Dang Nhan lost their lives while on duty at the Ea Ktur office. Two other police officers were injured.

During their escape, the suspects also killed the Party Secretary of Ea Ktur Commune Nguyen Van Kien and took three civilians hostage. The civilians eventually escaped safely.

Ea Tieu Commune Chairman Nguyen Van Dung was killed while he was traveling to the office after hearing about the attacks.

Police said on Sunday that a total of 62 suspects involved in the attacks had been arrested, including most of the masterminds. They seized eight guns, nearly 200 bullets, two mines and other weapons including knives.

Police also said most them were young and belonged to ethnic minority groups. Many said they had been enticed to join the attacks with promises of riches and “a new life abroad.” Others said they had been triggered by threats.

Not very far from Nguil’s home, H’ Bruinh Kbuor, 26, said three members of her family joined the attacks: her husband, Y Khuik Agun, 27, and two brothers in law.

Bruinh said she also discovered the three were among the attackers by watching videos online.

“My family recognized my husband and one of the in-laws in the video. All of them left the house together and there was no way we could contact them. When seeing them holding guns like that we were so scared,” she said.

H’ Bruinh Kbuor wipes her tears when speaking of her husband. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

H’ Bruinh Kbuor wipes her tears when speaking of her husband joining the attacks on commune offices in Dak Lak Province. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

Bruinh said her husband and two brothers in law had been acting normally until the day before the attacks. It was then that her husband said he was hired to pick up some rubber latex from a farm and disappeared.

After the attacks, one of the brothers turned himself in, but Bruinh heard nothing from her husband.

It was not until last Wednesday that she received a phone call from her husband. He told her: “Pick me up and I’ll turn myself in.”

“I called the police and they came to get him. I haven’t seen him since then and I don’t know how he has been these past days,” Bruinh cried, holding her two small children.

Y Nhat Kpa, Party Chief of Cu Pong Commune, said police have sent forces to each of the suspect’s family, asking them to give themselves up.

“Most of them are fine people who usually took part in sports activities in the commune. We’re really surprised they’ve taken part in such barbaric acts,” he said.

Ministry of Public Security spokesman To An Xo said Wednesday that the men who attacked two commune government offices were “organized, violent, bold, barbaric and inhumane.”

Xo said the suspects told police they were “ordered to kill officers and local police on sight” and take all their assets and weapons.

He said that an investigation is ongoing and measures are being taken to ensure that a similar incident will not happen again.

Police are ready to deal with any further situation that might arise. In Ea Tieu and Ea Ktur, life has returned to normal.

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