Laos has freed eight Christians jailed for over a year on charges of causing social division by taking part in a bible study group, a US embassy spokesman said yesterday.
The eight, all Laotians, were among a group of 44 Christians detained in January last year during a bible study meeting near Vientiane organised by the Evangelical Church of Christ. Five foreigners in the original group -- three Americans, one Thai and one French national -- were initially detained then asked to leave the country.
Laos, predominately Buddhist, now has 20,000-30,000 active Catholics, more than 200 protestants congregations, four recognised protestant churches, and two recognised protestant sects. Churches and church groups must be recognised by the Religious Affairs Department.