Three people were shot at dawn on Wednesday in the central province of Ha Tinh for trafficking 7 kg (15.5 pounds) of heroin from neighbouring Laos. They were sentenced to death in January 2002, court officials said on Thursday.  

Ten others were executed in public for drug trafficking and murder on Tuesday at Le Xa shooting ground in the northern province of Nam Dinh.

No explanation was given for the execution of 10 people on the same day. "The execution deadline expired for those people who all had their appeal or presidential clemency rejected," a court official said. 

"Executions were carried out following orders from the highest
justice authorities in the country," he added. 

There was no official information about how long they had been held on death row before execution. Blindfolded and tied to a stake, the 10 were executed simultaneously by 10  marksmen, according to a witness. 

Narcotics trade

Eight of them belonged to a drug network that was convicted in June 2000 for smuggling 275.97 kg (607.1 pounds) of heroin and 289 kg of opium from neighbouring Laos between 1992 and 1999 to Vietnam. 

"This is a very effective measure"

Le The Tiem,
Public security vice-minister

The government has carried out a long-running campaign to wipe out the narcotics trade. Around half of the 95 people sentenced to death so far this year were convicted of drug trafficking, according to statistics compiled from state-media. 

In September, public security vice-minister Le The Tiem said
Vietnam believed the death penalty was an effective method of preventing drugs production and trafficking. 

"This is a very effective measure," he said. "In the near
future, it will be our policy to maintain strong measures against these extremely serious crimes." 

At least 48 people have been executed in the communist nation since the beginning of 2003, according to the same local sources.