Vietnam authorities try to end hostage standoff

by Reuters
Thursday, 20 April 2017 14:32 GMT

A street is seen blocked in Dong Tam during a land dispute protest on the outskirts of Hanoi, Vietnam April 20, 2017. The banner reads "The people of Dong Tam commune absolutely trust the policy and path of the Party and the State". REUTERS/Staff

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HANOI, April 20 (Reuters) - Authorities in Vietnam's capital promised on Thursday to review the use of land at the centre of a dispute with protesters who have held 20 officials hostage for five days, local media said.

VnExpress said the offer was made by Hanoi's People Committee Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung to the residents of the Dong Tam commune, but that they had so far spurned his offer of a meeting to try to end the standoff.

People in Dong Tam, 40 km (25 miles) from the centre of Hanoi, say they were given insufficient compensation by authorities taking over residential land for a telecommunications project.

The dispute escalated at the weekend when protesters seized 38 officials, including police officers, in retaliation for the arrest of residents over the protests.

Fifteen of the hostages were freed on Monday and three others escaped while authorities also released the detained protesters, but the standoff has continued.

Residents said they feared that if they accepted the invitation to the meeting on Thursday they would be arrested.

"We will continue to invite them to talk at the soonest, perhaps tomorrow or the day after," Chung was quoted as saying by VnExpress. He said the hostages were being well treated.

(editing by Ralph Boulton)

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