Two Chinese killed in 'bomb' blast in Laos: Xinhua

BEIJING (Reuters) - Two Chinese nationals were killed and one wounded in a suspected bomb blast in Laos, Chinese state media said on Monday, the latest incident in which Chinese citizens have been killed abroad as the country’s economic footprint grows.

China’s embassy in Laos confirmed the blast, which occurred on Sunday morning. The victims had been traveling in a vehicle on the mountain roads of Xaysomboun province, the official Xinhua news agency said.

“Laos military personnel rushed to the scene and the injured, surnamed Zhou, has been shifted to a hospital in the capital, Vientiane, for treatment,” Xinhua said.

Chinese embassy officials visited the injured person and demanded a prompt investigation into the “suspected bomb attack”, Xinhua reported.

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that it had urged Laotian authorities to “appropriately deal with” the issue and strengthen security for Chinese based in the country.

At least one of the Chinese victims was an employee of a mining company from southern China’s Yunnan province, it said.

Xinhua did not give further details and it is unclear if the individuals were targeted.

The remote Xaysomboun region has been plagued by sporadic conflict between the government and ethnic Hmong militants for years.

Chinese workers have increasingly come under attack as the country’s firms expand operations abroad, often in politically unstable places.

In November, three executives from a Chinese state-run railway firm were killed when militants attacked a hotel in Mali, which highlighted China’s limited means to respond to threats abroad.

Reporting by Michael Martina, additional reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore