Beijing: Hundreds of protesters attacked a police station in southern China and ransacked vehicles, leaving dozens injured in the latest unrest to hit China`s industrial heartland, according to authorities.
It was the latest in a series of protests sparked by perceived social injustices in Guangdong, known as the workshop of the world for the tens of millions of migrant workers who toil in the province`s factories.
Rioters, angered by rumours that police officers had killed a child, wrecked vehicles and attacked police at the station in Guangdong`s Lufeng city, local authorities said in a statement on Friday.
Unrest first broke out on Wednesday among local people angered by a government land deal, but escalated after rumours of the child`s death spread, the statement said.
"On September 22 at around one in the afternoon, some villagers who had ulterior motives spread rumours about police killing a child, inciting some of the villagers to storm a border police station," it said.
One insider with close knowledge of the incident, who refused to be identified, said by phone that villagers took more than 20 government and public security officials hostage in the police station.
But he said they were angry about the detention of four other residents, and only when these were freed did they let the officials go.
"But so far today, it`s all quiet," he said, adding more than 30 villagers had been injured in the unrest.
According to the statement, more than 10 police were also wounded and six cars were wrecked by the protesters, who also blocked roads and trashed a local government office, a restaurant and a textile factory.
The statement put the number of protesters at 200, but the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong daily, quoted a local businessman as saying there were several thousand.
The protesters were angered at the sale of collectively-owned land by local government officials without their consent, the paper said.
In the last reported protest in Guangdong in June, hundreds of people battled police and destroyed cars after a factory worker was wounded in a knife attack over a wage row.
In the same month, riots erupted after rumours spread that police had beaten a street hawker to death and manhandled his pregnant wife.
Television images at the time showed hundreds of police officers and armoured vehicles deployed on the streets, with people hurling bricks at local officials, vandalising ATMs and police posts.
Calls to the Lufeng municipal office were unanswered on Friday, but blog posts from the area said the military had surrounded the city, blocking roads.
"All the roads leading into and out of our village have been sealed and guarded by the military, our entire village has been sealed," Charles_suen posted on Weibo, a Chinese site similar to Twitter.