About 20 uniformed and plainclothes officers on Wednesday stopped Brother Nguyen Van Tang and several other Catholics from entering Dong Chiem parish in My Duc district, about 70 kilometres (40 miles) from Hanoi, said parish priest Nguyen Van Huu.

After they seized his camera and mobile phone, he was making his way back when he was attacked by unknown assailants and left with serious head injuries, Huu said, adding Tang was taken to Hanoi for hospital treatment.

'Roads leading to the parish were still blocked by the authorities on Thursday morning', as they had been since the day after the cross incident early this month, Huu said. Local police declined to comment to AFP.

Unrest broke out on January 6 when parishioners tried to stop a large group of police and troops sent to dismantle the crucifix atop a mountain, according to Huu.

He said parishioners told him the police used electric prods, tear gas and stones against the crowd, two of whom were seriously injured. Huu was not present at the time of the incident.

Agence France Presse - January 21, 2010