There are new reports from Lao exile groups in the US that claim Lao rebels are conducting active operations against the Laotian Communist government. One firefight is said to have occurred July 25 near Ban Nong Nga. Several journalists are now looking into the claims by the Laotian exile groups. It does appear that something has been brewing for at least three months, and its something the Laotian government wants to suppress. In early July the Laotian government sentenced two reporters (a Belgian journalist and a French photographer) to 15 years in prison. The two men and their translator (identified as an American of Laotian origin) were arrested by a government security patrol on June 3. The men had visited a Hmong rebel base in the jungle. The Laotian rebels need independent journalists to tell their story among other things, to prove they exist and are conducting operations.