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Archive for Saturday, December 10, 2005

Police intensify village lockdown

Checkpoints surround town after dozens killed violent clashes

December 10, 2005

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— Armed police tightened their lockdown of a rebellious Chinese village Friday and went from house to house seeking leaders of violent clashes earlier in the week that villagers said had resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen people.

Residents reached by telephone said Dongzhou, a farming and fishing village 14 miles southeast of Shanwei city in Guangdong province near Hong Kong, was quiet Friday for the second night in a row. But checkpoints were reinforced on roads leading in and out of the village, leaving its 10,000 residents blocked in unless they traveled by sea or walked circuitous routes.

Some families were still trying to recover the bodies of loved ones killed by People's Armed Police during confrontations Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the residents reported. Villagers said 14 to 20 people were killed.

Their estimates were impossible to confirm; officials maintained a strict silence and prevented media from reporting the violence.

The shootings marked a sharp departure from previous police tactics during a wave of unrest that has unfurled across China in the past two years. Until now, security forces had used water cannons and truncheons.

In Dongzhou, however, riot police were joined by People's Armed Police carrying automatic rifles. They opened fire, villagers said, after rioters pelted them with gasoline bombs.

Residents have been engaged in a long protest against confiscations of their farmland for a wind-powered electricity plant.

The protests exploded into violence Tuesday after police arrested villagers who had gone to the plant to lodge a complaint.

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