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1,000 police sent to calm China village unrest: state media

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 27, 2009
More than 1,000 policemen have deployed to a rural area of southern China where days of clashes between two feuding villages left one dead and nine others injured, state media reported.

A bridge connecting the villages in the tropical island province of Hainan is now under the control of the police to prevent further violence after one man was stabbed to death, the official Xinhua news agency said late Thursday.

Citing Jia Dongjun, Hainan's police chief, Xinhua said the situation had improved after unrest erupted Monday when a student from Gancheng village was set upon, possibly by school children from neighbouring Baoshang.

But more than 100 shops in Gancheng were still closed, with broken bricks and pieces of wood littering the streets, power was off and schools were closed, Xinhua quoted Qin Guohua, a local party chief, as saying.

The two villages have reportedly been feuding over land for nearly 80 years.

The violence began after the injured student's relatives and friends descended on local government offices Monday to protest what they said was official failure to maintain public security.

By Monday evening, the crowd had swelled to several hundred, some of who set fire to government and police buildings, and destroyed three cars and ten motorcycles.

The crowd dispersed that night, but more tit-for-tat violence ensued Tuesday, with more than 100 officials dispatched to the area to try to calm the villagers down.

But Wednesday, one man died after he was stabbed in the head and arms during another fight between several hundred residents of the two villages.

Nine others were hurt in the clashes, down from previous Xinhua reports of 13 injured.

China sees tens of thousands of protests or outbursts of violence every year, often stemming from land disputes or dissatisfaction with local authorities.

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