Xaisomboun November 2015

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by lunch box, Nov 24, 2015.

  1. Bad news for riders, and Laos in general. I fear it has already been re-closed but I will try to find out this week.Reports are word of mouth and so far the U.S. and Aussies have advised/barred thier nationals from travel(?) Anyone else have details?

    https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=18562
     
  2. Yes I believe there has been another incident - shoot out, with some deaths, so as to be expected the area maybe restricted until everything is under control once more.

    Let us  know if you can find anything more out.
     
  3. Long Chieng has been & is sensitive area & it seems as if every man & his dog wants to ride out there at the moment.

    Care & respect for the locals & the "political history" of the area should be used.

    I understand one farang biker ran foul of the security officials for flying a drone out there & another has been locked up over night for being drunk & disorderly abusing the locals.

    Please guys show some sensitivity, care & respect when / if you venture out there. We don' need to create trouble to wear out the welcome for motorcyclists.
     
  4. ^ agreed

    I just talked to a local cop in Xaisomboun town who just "advised" that it is not safe to travel at this time. I choose to take his advise. When I stayed there last September the same guy gave me the green light to go visit places nearby that other locals "officials?" said I wasn't allowed to go.
     
  5. We found ourselves (3 Malaysians) in Xaysamboun on 15/11/2015. Prior to this travel advisory, we were in the south travelling the HCM trail. Our last internet availability was in Salavan so we were kind of oblivious to it.  Anyway we travelled from Xiang Thong in the east to Xaysamboun on what I think is the "new" road and we did not encounter any road blocks at all.  We rode into Xaysamboun and there was a local funfair in town so everybody was out and about.  We visited the local police station that evening to make enquiries/seek permission to visit Long Cheng but we were told to come back the next day as they were "closed" it being a Sunday.

    That night we on our way back from dinner we encountered a police road block and we were told that there was "trouble" but the police officer declined to elaborate.  We assumed that it was because of the funfair and some of them seemed kinda stoned. We also say a military truck full of armed soldiers heading out of town.  Later we hung out at the Doch Ban GH lobby and saw some interesting characters arriving late into the night in 4wd with their jackets barely concealing their weapons ... weird scenes.

    The next morning we headed back to the police station to confirm and we were told by some guys at the gate that it was ok to go to Long Cheng and there was no need for any kind of written permit which I had sought to obtain. So to Long Cheng we went again not encountering any road blocks all the way.  We made a quick lunch stop in Long Cheng not forgetting that all important pic on LS20A and then we were off to Phonsavan on the northern route. Again there were no road blocks though we did see the boom gates but they were raised and nobody was in sight ... at least we think so.

    NOT saying that it is safe to go there at the moment though.

    [​IMG][/URL]
     
  6. Very interesting that you traveled from Xiang Thong to Xaysomboun but, as I can't find Xiang Thong on the map, could you provide a few more details about where it is located like along what road, near which town or even better the GPS coordinates, etc.

    Thanks
     
  7. Do you guys have the gps track you can overlay on google earth and share?

    Checked with Steve Canyon. The name you mention is after long cheng on the way to phonsavan..  So may be a mix up in names ;-)

    Cheers

    Brian
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Just informed by the road contractor to long cheng. That we can go that way.  No trouble in that area.

    It was around route  1d and 5  where the issue was.  Hope I remember the numbers correctly

    Shaking his head like nothing to worry about..

    Let's see.

    Cheers.

    Brian
     
  9. It might be of interest to other members to get the tracking uploaded here for sharing? Just a thought .......
     
  10. Below is a print screen of my track for this section of my ride. I will try to paste a link for the actual gps track hopefully.

    OI000010%203_2_zpsvonug8yo.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/xjg55jx1zywl1vu/Track%20to%20Xaysomboun.gpx?dl=0
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Here is a print screen of the track for this section of our ride.

    Screenshot%202015-12-08%2012.38.56_zpsdc74pwwk.

    and here is the gpx file of the track.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/xjg55jx1zywl1vu/Track%20to%20Xaysomboun.gpx?dl=0

    Hope this is of use for those interested. Cheers.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Attached Files:

  13. Here is a printscreen of the actual track we took to Xaysomboun

    Screenshot%202015-12-08%2012.38.56_zpsdc74pwwk.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Here is a link to the gpx file of the above track. Hope this will be useful for those interested.

    Xaysomboun Track
     
  15. Thanks for the track & update Rob7711

    Here's an interesting article on the recent  unrest
     
  16. New Governor Appointed to Ensure Security in Laos’ Xaysomboun Province

    2016-02-24

    A Lao military officer who was deputy minister of national defense has been appointed governor of Xaysomboun province to tamp down increased unrest since last November, which has left 10 dead, a retired soldier close to a high-ranking officer in the Ministry of National Defense said.

    Major General Thongloy Silivong, a member of the Party Central Committee and former chief of the National Defense Academy, was appointed the new party secretary of Xaysomboun province on Feb. 16, replacing Sombath Yialiher.

    Thongloy was one of 69 people elected to the Party Central Committee during the 10th Party Congress of the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, the country’s most important political event, held in the capital Vientiane in January.

    “The appointment of a high-ranking military official to govern the province was expected because of the unrest,” the retired soldier, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFA’s Lao Service.

    Unrest in the mountainous province in central Laos is nothing new, but recent violent incidents mean it can no longer be ignored because of the effect on local development and the lives of area residents, he said.

    Lao authorities imposed a curfew in the north-central part of the province in early December after a spate of violence the previous month in which three government soldiers and three civilians were killed.

    Last month, a bomb blast at a road construction site near a work camp outside Pha Nok Kok village, Long Cheang district, killed two Chinese officials and injured a third, and forced work on the project to stop temporarily. Previously, soldiers defused another bomb on the same road in Namphanoy village on Dec. 30.

    Anti-government group

    While authorities blamed the events on bandits, a source close to the government told RFA that an anti-government resistance group was behind the killings, a rarity in the tightly ruled country where no known armed rebel groups have operated in recent years.

    “It is well known that the province is the base of an anti-government group, and no one can deny it,” the retired soldier said. “The reason the government has appointed Major General Thongloy to oversee that province is because he’s not a hard-line soldier, but a politics-minded one who will focus on a peaceful strategy.”

    Some believe that ethnic Hmong who live in the province may be the ones behind the recent attacks, he said.

    The Nam Ngiep 1, a 290-megawatt hydropower dam being built in Xaysomboun and neighboring Bolikhamxay province, has forced about 300 Hmong families to relocate to two other villages in Xaysomboun.

    “The villagers did not want to be moved because they were not satisfied with the compensation offered to them,” he said.

    Behind the scenes

    At first, General Souvone Leuangbounmy, a military hard-liner, was supposed to be appointed governor of Xaysomboun province, but the government decided on Major General Thongloy to work out a peaceful solution, the retired soldier said.

    Thongloy was not endorsed by former President Khamtay Siphandone, who has played a key role in selecting new Central Party Committee members and the 11 Politburo members. He campaigned hard before the party congress to ensure that certain candidates were elected.

    “Before the 10th Party Congress, former president [Khamtay], backed by Vietnam, worked hard to get involved in the selection of the new Central Party Committee members and eliminate any pro-Chinese leaders,” the retired soldier said.

    The 92-year-old worked so hard behind the scenes that he fell ill after the congress and is currently receiving medical treatment in Vietnam, he said.

    “After the congress, it was clear that Mr. Khamtay still had the power and influence to decide the nation’s future and is one of only two people that can determine the destiny of the country,” he said.

    Xaysomboun was once a base for thousands of ethnic minority Hmong who fought under U.S. Central Intelligence Agency advisers during a so-called “secret war” backing the Lao Royal Army against Pathet Lao communist forces.

    After the communist takeover in 1975, a ragtag band of Hmong resisters hid in the jungle, fearing government persecution for having fought for the pro-American side during the war.

    Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

    Source: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/new-governor-appointed-to-ensure-security-in-laos-xaysomboun-province-02242016121916.html
     
  17. 7th March 2016

    The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to a series of recent shooting attacks along Road 13, a major thoroughfare connecting Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng, two of Laos’ most popular tourist destinations.  The Embassy has prohibited official travel on Road 13 from Km 220 north of Kasi in Vientiane province to Km 270 at the Phou Khoun junction in Luang Prabang province because of the unpredictable nature of the violence and the lack of official information regarding possible motives or a Lao government response.  The attacks have killed one and injured nine.  The attacks are occurring simultaneously with the ongoing violence in Xaisomboun province, which prompted the Embassy to restrict all official travel to that province as well.  This Travel Alert supersedes the February 11, 2016, Travel Alert concerning Xaisomboun province and it expires on May 30, 2016.

    Five occupants of a public bus and a pickup truck were injured when gunfire tar geted the vehicles on Road 13 on March 1. A similar shooting attack targeted a tourist bus on this same stretch of roadway on January 14.  It injured at least one passenger.  A separate recent shooting in the same area killed one person and injured three.

    In Xaisomboun, two roadside attacks occurred in late January 2016, killing three people and injuring a fourth.  They involved the detonation of improvised explosive devices.  The attacks came after a series of shooting attacks in November and December 2015 that prompted the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane to restrict official travel to Xaisomboun Province.

    The Embassy still permits its personnel travelling between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng to travel on the “new road” west of Road 13, between Kasi and Luang Prabang, and along Road 13 from Kasi all the way south to Vientiane.  U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Laos should take precautions, remain vigilant about their personal security, and be alert to local security developments.

    Source: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/laos-travel-alert.html

    Personally, if you are riding a motorbike the big danger is still getting hit by a bus or truck. However you should be aware that there are isolated incidents happening
     
  18. Thanks, David, for sharing this information.

    Be warned though, with the increased traffic among Laotians and the avalanche of Chinese traffic, particularly touristic limousines and CRVs or Chinese trailers and trucks - the risk manifolded - regretfully.

    The suggested deviation from Route 13N (avoiding the stretch Kasi-Phou Khoun) is to be driven carefully as well. The (not so new but lesser known) road between Kasi (R13S) across the mountains to Ban Pongdong (R4):
    2016-02-21_130122.
    has steep sections; challenging to brakes and driver skills.

    The latest heavy accident happened February 21st, 2016 at 10.30 am when a overland bus must have lost total downhill control (brake failure?) and shredded a minivan with five people within seconds to pieces:
    2016-02-21_132228.

    and here is the non-graphic (out-linked) clip on how FAST such things can happen.
    Hence BE WARNED and drive as defensive as you can on public roads; plenty off-road possibilities to stretch your muscles.
     
  19. The Culprits caught..?

    Lao Authorities Arrest 30 Suspects in Bus Shootings
    2016-04-21

    Military and police officials in central Laos’ Vientiane province have arrested 30 people suspected of being involved in a bus shooting last month that left one Chinese national dead and six others wounded, a local resident with knowledge of the situation said Thursday.
    The arrests occurred on April 7 along a road between Nanhiew and Nakangpa villages in the province’s Met district after a truck the suspects were traveling in ran out of gas, the source who witnessed the arrests said.
    They robbed some road construction workers at gunpoint and knife-point to get money for petrol, but one of the workers called the police, who, along with military officers, were able to apprehend the men, he said.
    “The suspects were brutally beaten by the police and military officials,” said the local resident who declined to be named. “The villagers who saw the incident dare not talk publicly about it.”
    A Met district police officer who gave his name as Poy told RFA that local authorities had the situation under control, but could not give any information about it.
    “There is no problem, and the situation is peaceful," he said. “We cannot tell any outsiders because it is an internal affair.”
    He declined to say if the 30 suspects had been arrested in Vientiane district.
    Long list of shootings
    Unknown attackers referred to as “bandits” have been involved in other shooting incidences in both Vientiane and north-central Xaysomboun province since last November.
    During that month, an exchange of gunfire between a Lao anti-government resistance group and local troops in Xaysomboun left three government soldiers dead and some others injured.
    A month later, 15 attackers shot two motorcyclists in the province’s Anouvong district, killing one and injuring the other.
    The alleged bandits shot at a truck transporting beer in the district three days later, injuring two people in the vehicle.
    On Jan. 14, a midnight attack on a public bus traveling along Route 13 North in Vientiane province’s Kasy district, injured one of about a dozen passengers, but caused no deaths.
    A shooting in Phoukhoun district of Luang Prabang province on March 1 killed a Chinese man and injured three other Chinese nationals who were working for a logging company clearing land for the Nam Ngum 3 hydropower dam project.
    On the same day as the shooting near the dam, bandits mounted two separate attacks on a public bus and a truck traveling along Route 13 North in Phoukhoun, injuring five people.
    As for arrests in the other shootings, a retired soldier who is close to a high-ranking official in the Lao Ministry of National Defense told RFA on Wednesday that authorities in Xaysomboun province have arrested 50 suspects in the attacks that occurred there late last year.
    Although unrest in the mountainous provinces of central Laos is nothing new, the shootings have made it difficult for the government to ignore them because of the effects on local development and the lives of area residents.

    Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

    Source: Radio Free Asia
     
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  20. An interesting article thaht follows on from this

    From the Asia Times

    Asia Times - Are Chinese nationals being targeted in Laos?

    Beijing's issuance of a security alert for its nationals residing or traveling in the Southeast Asian nation underlines a recent spate of attacks on its citizens.

    By DAVID HUTT, July 15, 2017 2:27 PM (UTC+8)

    Weeks after a Chinese national was shot dead in Laos there has been no public comment on the identity of the attacker, nor a motive for the murder.

    But this hasn’t stopped analysts from speculating that the individual was targeted because of growing disaffection with China’s rising economic clout in the landlocked nation.

    Shortly after the attack, which took place on June 16 in the central province of Xaysomboun, the Chinese embassy in Vientiane issued a safety advisory for its citizens traveling or residing in Laos.

    “The Chinese embassy requested that Laos quickly solve the case and severely punish the killer and at the same time take practical action to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens and organizations in Laos,” read a statement released by the embassy.

    Last month’s shooting is the latest in a series of attacks on Chinese nationals in Laos.

    In March last year, one Chinese person was killed and three others injured in a shooting in Luang Prabang province. The individuals were workers for a logging company that was clearing land for a hydropower dam, reported Radio Free Asia, a US government-funded news agency.

    Two months before, a suspected bomb attack in Xaysomboun province killed two more Chinese nationals, one reportedly an employee of a China-based mining firm.

    The repeated attacks on Chinese nationals suggests that they are being targeted because of how China’s rising economic role in Laos is negatively impacting on some locals.

    “The villagers disagree with the government’s decision to have the Chinese to do the logging near their community, and they do not want to be removed from their homes,” Radio Free Asia quoted an anonymous retired soldier saying after the March 2016 attack.

    China is now Laos’ largest foreign investor, recently overtaking Vietnam. Chinese-state media claims there are more than 760 Chinese-funded projects in the country, worth almost US$6.7 billion combined.

    The landlocked nation is vital for China’s trillion-dollar ‘One Belt, One Road’ Initiative as a route to other nations in Southeast Asia.

    “Lao people are generally neutral to Chinese people,” said a Laos-based analyst, who like other sources in this article requested anonymity due to fear of reprisals. “[But] that is probably less true the further north one goes, and there has been significant complaint about the dirty farming methods employed by Chinese companies.”

    Special economic zones (SEZs) in the northern region of Laos have swelled in recent years. In many, the local currency, the Laotian kip, is rejected in favor of the Chinese yuan, and control of the ventures is often outside the purview of provincial authorities.

    Claims that many regions in the north are being handed over to the Chinese are commonplace, as are suggestions that Lao government officials are selling out sovereignty for personal gains. Those charges often center on controversial hydropower dams that run along the country’s stretch of the Mekong river.

    Local opprobrium has recently been directed at Chinese-owned banana plantations in the north. Investors began moving into Laos in 2010 due to land shortages in China and, according to Reuters, banana exports have increased ten-fold in the last decade. The fruit is now thought to be one of Laos’ largest exports, nearly all of which is sent to China.

    While investors purchased land for more than market rates and, though analysts say the plantations have increased employment and brought higher wages to locals, the use of potential dangerous pesticides has sparked controversy.

    A National Agriculture and Forestry Institute study published last year found that 63% of plantation workers in the country’s northern regions had become sick over a six-month period. The rate for workers in the central and south regions was roughly half of this figure.

    In apparent response, the Lao government prohibited the opening of any new banana plantations last year. In April, news reports confirmed that several farms across seven provinces had been shut down. Other reports, however, noted that the government has faced difficulty in enforcing the ban.

    Despite complaints about Chinese investment in Laos and its impact on locals, some analysts believe that this may have little to do with the rising attacks on Chinese nationals. Beijing has usually been keen to make the disconnection, though not after last month’s attack.

    Xinhua, the Chinese government’s news agency, noted in an article last year that on the same day as the March 2016 attack, which killed one Chinese national in Luang Prabang province, two separate incidents in the same province injured five Lao nationals when their vehicles were attacked. Xinhua attributed all the attacks to unspecified “militants.”

    The January 2016 bombing, which killed two Chinese nationals, took place after two more blasts in the same area that month in which no Chinese nationals were killed or injured. Xinhua’s suggestion is that Chinese are not being targeted because of their nationality, but instead have been the victims of indiscriminate attacks.

    The Lao government routinely identifies attacks on the military and civilians as the work of “bandits” who have no political or social motivations.

    The fact that most of the attacks that have injured or killed Chinese nationals occurred in Xaysomboun province has led some commentators to speculate that they are related to long-running hostilities between the Lao government and the local ethnic Hmong.

    Many Hmong, a minority group in Laos, fought on the side of the US-backed Lao Royal Army during the country’s Civil War, which ended after three decades with the Communist Pathet Lao’s victory in 1975.

    The Hmong population that has remained in Laos, which numbers almost 600,000, has since faced official harassment and intimidation.

    Some have moved into remote mountainous areas and continue to oppose the government, though it is thought that just one armed resistance group, the Choa Fa, remains active with only a few hundred soldiers.

    Violence in Hmong-populated areas died down during the 2000s but picked up again in late 2015. And Xaysomboun province has become something of an epicenter for Hmong incursions. In November 2015, the US embassy in Laos banned its personnel from traveling to the province due to security concerns, according to media reports.

    “Perhaps it is simply that the Chinese are an important financial ally of the [Lao government] at present and by targeting them… it is creating an embarrassment for the Lao government,” a source told Asia Times, regarding the latest killing.

    The Economist’s Intelligence Unit reported last year that “a deteriorating security situation runs the risk of tarnishing Laos’ reputation as a destination of Chinese investment and tourism.”

    The Lao government is notoriously secretive when it comes to information that could undermine confidence in its rule. And if Chinese nationals are being targeted because of their economic clout or as proxies in the Hmong’s attacks on government targets, it is unlikely to be officially admitted.​
     
  21. Yes, blame it on the Hmong. Worked before, and will hopefully work again, or maybe not.
     

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