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3 Hurt in Laos Blast

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) June 30, 2000 - A homemade bomb injured at least three construction workers in Vientiane, the latest in a series of unsolved explosions in the Laotian capital, diplomats and officials said Friday.

The explosive planted alongside the Mekong River went off Wednesday night, injuring workers inside a bamboo hut. It was not clear how badly the three, who were from Vietnam, were hurt.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for a series of blasts that have hit the once-placid city over the past three months. Other targets have included a tourist restaurant, the bus station and the central market.

The communist regime, which has ruled since 1975, believes it is a terrorist campaign designed to undermine its credibility and hurt its efforts to attract more tourists to the poor Southeast Asian nation.

A Laotian diplomat at the embassy in Bangkok said on condition of anonymity that he believes the blasts are aimed at creating instability in Laos.

The Laotian government said that earlier this month it arrested two people in Vientiane carrying explosives, but it did not identify them. The suspects have yet to go to trial.

Foreign embassies have issued travel warnings about the security situation in Vientiane and upgraded existing advisories about remote central provinces because of an upsurge in ethnic unrest this year.

Hmong insurgents who have been fighting a low-level resistance war in the jungle since 1975 have rarely if ever attacked urban areas, and analysts have cast doubt if they would be able to penetrate the capital.

Many Hmong fought for a U.S.-backed army in Laos against Laotian communists during the Vietnam War.

The Laotian and Vietnamese communists remain strong allies and continue to monopolize political power in their countries. Vietnamese military have reportedly assisted Laos in fighting the insurgents this year, but the two countries deny this.