BEIJING: A suspected bomb attack in Laos killed two Chinese citizens and injured one more, Beijing’s official news agency Xinhua said Monday.
The world’s second-largest economy has been pouring money into the sleepy Southeast Asian nation, a fellow Communist state, over the last several years and became its largest investor in 2014.
Xinhua identified one of the victims as an employee of a Chinese mining company operating in the mountainous center of the country.
The victims were on board a vehicle when the incident happened on Sunday, it cited the Chinese embassy in Vientiane as saying.
The blast, which it repeatedly described as an “attack,” occurred in Xaysomboun province, it said.
Unexploded ordnance is an enduring problem in Laos. During the Vietnam War US warplanes dropped more than two million tons of munitions in some 580,000 bombing missions aimed at cutting North Vietnamese supply lines through the country.
An estimated 30 percent of the devices failed to detonate and the explosives have killed 50,000 people since the end of the war.
China’s foreign ministry confirmed the deaths, describing the incident as a “violent attack” but not giving details of the method or the suspected motive.
“We advise Chinese citizen to increase security precautions,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing.
The Chinese embassy in Vientiane said in a statement that two of its staff had visited the injured survivor, a civilian surnamed Zhou, in hospital.
A special envoy of Chinese president Xi Jinping is scheduled to go to Laos this week, Xinhua reported separately, following a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry. He met the Lao prime minister Monday as the US courts its former wartime foe.
President Barack Obama is due to travel to the rural landlocked nation later this year for a summit of Southeast Asian countries, marking the first visit by a US president.