CHINA> Regional
China deploys 1,000 policemen in rioting town
Updated: 2009-03-27 00:15

DONGFANG - More than 1,000 policemen have arrive in Gancheng Township in south China's Hainan Province where continuous clashes between two villages have left one person dead and nine others injured, local authorities said Thursday.

The bridge connecting the Gancheng village and Baoshang village, each with a population of over 10,000, is now under the control of the police to prevent further clashes, said Jia Dongjun, Hainan's police chief, at a press conference here.

He added that the situation had improved since the massive police deployment.

The trouble started Monday night, when angry villagers gathered at the township government to protest against the government's dealing with a fight between a student from Gancheng village and another from Baoshang villages.

The protest become violent when their demands were not met. The office buildings of the township government and the police station and a local inn were smashed and burnt.

Spontaneous clashes since then had resulted in one death and nine injuries, according to the information office of the Dongfang City government.

Zhang Ji, 32, from Baoshang, died after being stabbed in the head and arms during a fight, police said.

Local residents have been unhappy with the police because several children so far this year have been attacked by unidentified people. Police have made little progress in those cases, said Shi Wen, who was in charge of dealing with the clashes.

"They were protesting the failure of local government and police to maintain public security," Shi said.

Two officers of the local police station have been sacked.

Besides, underground gambling houses of the two villages were competing with each other. Some people were inciting villagers to fight in the name of protecting their own villages, Shi said.

"We are hunting for suspects who instigated the violence."

Some 100 local officials were trying to calm residents.

The two neighboring villages have had a troubled relationship for almost eighty years. There have been frequent brawls between residents, said Su Tianfang, who used to be the Gancheng Village head.

Police were investigating whether the latest clashes were related to a land dispute.

More than 100 shops in the Gancheng Township seat, located in Gancheng Village, were closed. Broken bricks and pieces of wood were seen in the street.

Power went off and schools were closed in the township seat, said Qin Guohua, Party chief of Gancheng Township.