The United States has called on Laos to investigate allegations that Lao military forces killed a group of unarmed Hmong minority civilians, most of them women and children.
The human rights organization Amnesty International says Lao soldiers killed at least 26 unarmed Hmong civilians on April 6, as they were searching for food.
"The U.S. renews its call on the Lao government to investigate the disturbing reports from several credible international sources of the alleged April 6 incident," said James Warren, a spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane.
The United States made its request public Friday, after earlier privately asking the Lao government for an investigation.
The Lao government has rejected allegations that its military killed the Hmong civilians and has lashed out at the U.S. Embassy, suggesting it was fabricating accusations.
The Hmong and other minorities supported a pro-American government in Laos before the Communist takeover in 1975. Amnesty International says up to a third of the Hmong's estimated population of 300,000 has fled the country, mainly to the U.S.
However, an unknown number remain in the jungles of Laos, some of them continuing their armed resistance against the government.
But Amnesty says many are not involved in the fighting, and the government should cooperate with the international community to reintegrate the Hmong into society.