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4/18/2011 Laos (StraitsTimes) – Laotian and Vietnamese troops have killed four Hmong Christian women after confiscating their Bible, a US rights group said on Friday, condemning growing persecutions of people for their faith in Laos.

The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) said the unarmed highland Hmong women were ‘summarily executed’ on Thursday in north-eastern Xieng Khouang province by soldiers from a special 150-member unit of the Lao People’s Army (LPA) led by Vietnamese secret police and military advisers.

The government troops confiscated the group’s only Bible, ‘brutally and repeatedly raped’ at least two of the younger women before shooting them at point blank range with automatic weapons in the head and torso, it added. Their husbands and 26 children were forced to witness the killings and have since disappeared after being beaten and tied up.

CPPA executive director Philip Smith denounced what he called a ‘tragic and major upswing’ in religious persecution in Laos at the hands of Vietnamese and Laotian military and Communist Party officials over the past year.

‘In a coordinated and expanded fashion, the Vietnam People’s Army and LPA troops and security forces are especially determined to hunt down and kill independent Christian and animist believers in the highlands of Vietnam and Laos,’ he added.

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