May 1, 2004: Unreported bombing in Laos

On May 1, 2004 one person was killed and three others were injured when a previously unreported bomb exploded at a bus stop in southern Laos.

KHANTABOURY DISTRICT, LAOS – Does the public really benefit when news of terrorist attacks is stifled?

Do you remember Chernobyl? I know it was a long time ago – 1986 – but this potentially catastrophic nuclear accident in the former Soviet Union (USSR) – actually what is now Ukraine – was very important for several reasons. It showed the Soviet ‘system’ to be not as good as advertised. It demonstrated that nuclear energy can be very dangerous. And it taught us – again! – that not being forthcoming in releasing information is not a desired outcome.

You see, Soviet authorities both denied anything was wrong and delayed telling the rest of the world about the release of toxic radioactive material for days. It was not until Swedish air monitors had detected a large amount of radiation in the atmosphere and traced it back to the USSR that Soviet officials admitted that there’s been an accident. Even then, they falsely state the situation was under control.

Move along, nothing to see here. Unless you want to go to the gulag! (Photo: By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R80329 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, Wikimedia Commons)

We live in an era of ‘instant news‘, thanks in large part to the world wide web. This has its own issues (dis- and misinformation) but having more info is still better than less. Still, some governments never seem to learn.

On this day in 2004

One person was killed and three others were injured when a previously unreported bomb exploded at a bus stop in southern Laos. After the blast Lao officials cordoned off the location and controled the scene with instructions for witnesses to keep quiet and avoid publicizing what they saw.

 People were celebrating around the bridge. There were lots of firecrackers and rockets, but then there was an accident and three people were injured but not too seriously. A fourth person also had very minor wounds.

Official Lao statement

What had actually happened was that the Free Democratic People’s Republic of Laos had set the bomb off. It was not a ‘celebration’ with firecrackers. It was terrorism, pure and simple. Shame on the Lao government!

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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