Six Chinese nationals wounded in Laos bus shooting: Xinhua

March 23, 2016 10:16 PM EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Six Chinese nationals were wounded in a bus shooting in northern Laos on Wednesday, the official Xinhua news agency said, the latest flare-up of violence affecting Chinese in the country as Beijing extends its economic influence in Southeast Asia.

The victims included passengers and drivers of the bus, which was traveling from Kunming, the capital of China's southwestern Yunnan province, to Vientiane, the Laotian capital, Xinhua quoted Chinese embassy officials as saying.

The bus was shot at by unidentified gunmen on a road in Kasi, Vientiane province, Xinhua said. A total of 25 passengers and three drivers were on the bus, and the six injured Chinese men were sent to hospital.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had been in contact with Laos.

"The Chinese side has launched representations to the Laos side, requesting it to pay close attention and investigate clearly the relevant incident and also take measures to severely punish the assailants and protect the safety of Chinese citizens," Hua said.

On March 1, a Chinese national was killed and three wounded in an attack by unidentified militants on a Chinese-backed company in Laos's northern Luang Prabang province, according to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In January, two Chinese were killed and one wounded in a bomb attack on a bus in remote Xaysomboun province in Laos.

Relations between China and Laos have focused mainly on trade and aid, particularly in infrastructure development. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday said China would offer $11.5 billion in loans and credit to five Southeast Asian countries including Laos for infrastructure and other projects.

(Reporting by Jessica Macy Yu; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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