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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 12:24 GMT
Laos blames blast on business squabble
rebel soldiers?
There have been clashes by the border before
Laos blamed a bomb at a busy border crossing which injured 11 Thai tourists on Wednesday on "bad people" involved in a business dispute.

The bomb was planted by traders who had a grudge against immigration officials

Lao official
The blast, the latest in a series of mysterious blasts in the secretive communist state, occurred at an immigration checkpoint by the Friendship Bridge, which links Laos with Thailand.

One report by Agence France Press news agency said four Lao men had been arrested over the blast.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the government-run Lao radio has blamed it on a "business dispute" between two men.

"The bomb was planted by traders who had a grudge against immigration officials there," said Khamkong Kitteekhun, Deputy Director-General for domestic news.

Officials had earlier said that an electrical fault was to blame for the blast. Mr Khamkong also said two Laos were also hurt in the blast.

Loud bang

Thai police said there was a loud bang which they heard over on their side of the river.

They said victims described being knocked over by the blast as they queued to pass through immigration back into Thailand.

The Thais were taken to a hospital back in Thailand. Two of them, including a child, have sustained serious injuries, police said.

Previous blasts

The BBC's south-east Asia correspondent Jonathan Head said the incident appears to fit a pattern of explosions to hit the communist-ruled state in recent months.

Last month one occurred in the capital Vientiane, during a summit meeting between the European Union and the Association of South-East Asian Nations, although the Lao government blames that one on an aerosol can thrown into a fire.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts. Some believe they are the work of anti government activists - either anti-communist rebels or members of the ethnic Hmong tribe, who have long been unhappy about their treatment by the government.

Exiles based in the United States and Europe have admitted funding rebel activity in Laos.

But until now the attacks have not visibly damaged the communist party's hold on power, although they are doing little to help the impoverished country's attempts to attract more tourists.

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See also:

09 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Bicycle bomb explodes in Laos
11 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Another blast disrupts Laos
31 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Bomb blast in Laos capital
03 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
'Australians held over Laos gems'
20 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Laos' battle with poverty
02 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Laos marks 25 years of Communism
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