Monday , June 24 2024

Survivors recall night of deadly attacks in Central Highlands


Senior police lieutenant Dam Dinh Bop, who survived the deadly attacks on Central Highlands commune offices and police stations this weekend, wept for his his deceased comrades.

As he lay on a hospital bed at Central Highlands General Hospital in Buon Me Thuot City, Bop, deputy police chief of Ea Ktur Commune in Dak Lak Province, had wires and bandages all over his body.

He and captain Le Kien Cuong survived an armed attack on the People’s Committee office in Ea Ktur, which also houses the local police station, on Sunday.

Their two colleagues, major Hoang Trung and captain Nguyen Dang Nhan, lost their lives.

At around 1 a.m. on June 11, Bop received a phone call from an unknown number.

On the line was a male voice that told him to come to the station because “a civilian had something to report.”

Bop then drove to the location in his car.

When he arrived at the station, located at the same site as the commune People’s Committee office, a group of people surrounded his car. Bop rolled down his window and asked what was going on.

“I hadn’t finished my sentence when I was stabbed and slashed repeatedly,” Bop said, adding that others were screaming “kill him!” and throwing Molotov’s cocktails into his car.

He managed to escape from the car and ran towards the back of the headquarters, his hands covering the wounds on his stomach.

The car of senior lieutenant Dam Dinh Bop was burned during attacks on the Ea Ktur Commune Peoples Committee office on June 11, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

The car of senior lieutenant Dam Dinh Bop was burned during attacks on the Ea Ktur Commune People’s Committee office on June 11, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

Security cameras captured Bop rushing out of the car with his pants on fire and the flames raging inside the vehicle. Bop ran to a nearby coffee garden as he began to faint. He collapsed and before he passed out he heard the sounds of people screaming and feet stomping on the ground.

“When I came to, I heard the sounds of my colleagues, so I tried to call for help,” he recalled.

When the melee was over Bop was taken to the Central Highlands General Hospital at around 3 a.m., with multiple wounds, severe blood loss and burns on his legs.

“The physical pain cannot match the pain of losing my comrades,” Bop said through tears.

Lying in the bed next to Bop’s, Cuong was recovering after doctors retrieved a bullet from his chest. The gunshot broke several of his ribs and Cuong groaned in pain whenever he tried to shift his body’s position.

Captain Le Kien Cuong is checked on by his wife as he receives treatment at a hospital after being attacked at Ea Ktur Commune Peoples Committee office on June 11, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Quoc Thang

Captain Le Kien Cuong is checked on by his wife as he receives treatment at a hospital after being attacked at Ea Ktur Commune People’s Committee office on June 11, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Quoc Thang

Cuong said he, Trung and Nhan were sleeping in a room upstairs in the headquarters when the attack happened.

They slept on a bunk bed, with Cuong on top. When the sounds of gunfire broke the night, Cuong had already been shot and there was no time to react. When he woke up, he was already at the hospital.

Hiep, Cuong’s wife, said her husband had been shot near his lungs, making it difficult for him to talk.

“He luckily escaped death and his wounds are fine now. But when his friends visit and mention his deceased comrades, he cries,” Hiep said.

Besides the People’s Committee office in Ea Ktur, an armed group also attacked the People’s Committee office in neighboring Ea Tieu Commune, killing major Tran Quoc Thang and captain Ha Tuan Anh. They also killed five other people – two commune officials and three civilians.

By Wednesday, 46 people had been detained by the police, most of them living in Dak Lak.

One of the suspects, named Y Chanh Nie, said his “master” promised him a life of riches and told him to “kill anyone on sight.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Public Security said the armed group behaved in “an organized manner, reckless, ruthless and without humanity.”

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