Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Police shoot five in China land protest

AFP , BEIJING

Police in south China shot and wounded at least five demonstrators in clashes over a land dispute that also left 11 law enforcement officers injured, state media and an official said yesterday.

The violence, which occurred on Tuesday in the village of Longyatun in the Guangxi region, also left “numerous” other villagers with injuries after police used force to quell the demonstration, the China News Service reported.

As the villagers attacked law enforcement officers with rocks, knives and clubs, police shot into the crowd “in self-defense” after first firing warning shots and ordering protesters to disperse, it said.

“No one was killed — some people were injured,” said an ­official with the Lipu county government who declined to be named, refusing further comment.

Other police and hospital officials in Lipu also refused to comment on the incident.

The clashes erupted after local authorities sought to arrest 12 villagers for obstructing public works, the news report said.

In China, such charges are often applied to local residents who either refuse to move off lands that have been requisitioned by the government or refuse to allow the demolition of their homes to make way for public works.

China has recently seen a rash of violent clashes over land across the country, many sparked by forced evictions as officials and property developers seek to cash in on a soaring real estate market.

The violence in Guangxi erupted after police had arrested several of the villagers, only to be surrounded by other residents who demanded their release, the report said.

Postings on the popular Chinese blog site Tianya said police shot seven villagers, killing one, while also using electric batons and tear gas. As many as 50 villagers have been taken into custody, the postings said.

Pictures posted on the Web site show one man being treated in hospital with two bullet wounds to his chest.

The Guangxi incident comes after one person was killed and scores injured when police clashed with villagers in eastern Jiangsu Province last week after a protest against the forced eviction of farmers from rural lands.

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