Several Vietnamese Catholics were injured after police used electric prods and fired tear gas during a dispute over a crucifix, a priest said.

The incident occurred early on Wednesday in Dong Chiem parish, about 70km from Hanoi, when parishioners tried to stop a large group of police and troops sent to dismantle the cross on top of a mountain, said Nguyen Van Huu, the parish priest.

He said parishioners told him the police used electric prods, tear gas and stones against the crowd, two of whom were seriously injured and taken to Hanoi for treatment.

Four or five other parishioners were hurt, said the priest, who was not present at the time of the incident.

The clash, as described by the priest, is one of the most serious recent incidents in a long-running series of church-state land disputes.

Police refused to comment.

(Source: Sydney Morning Herald,