Sun, Feb 22, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Farmers beat village chief over Sichuan quake funds

AP , BEIJING

Farmers in earthquake-devastated southwest China beat a village chief and clashed with police this week after they claimed they were cheated out of disaster relief subsidies, state media said.

Wednesday’s clash in Anxian County — one of the hardest-hit areas from last May’s quake — left an unspecified number of farmers and police injured and calm was restored after 100 police were brought in, Xinhua news agency said late on Friday.

Xinhua reported that tensions flared after five villagers said they were denied subsidies and beat the head of Yongquan village.

After some of the farmers were detained, 20 villagers surrounded the police station.

An official in the county’s propaganda office played down the conflict but confirmed that a dispute occurred over relief subsidies. The official said farmers were dredging sand from a river bed for construction and when local officials tried to stop them, they raised the issue of quake subsidies.

“Police from neighboring areas gathered to maintain the order. No clash broke out in the township,” said the official, surnamed Xi.

The misuse of relief supplies and funds has been a constant problem since the magnitude 7.9 earthquake jolted Sichuan Province and surrounding areas on May 12, leaving 90,000 people dead or missing and 5 million homeless.

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