Hong Kong: Rampaging villagers in southwestern China overturned and torched dozens of vehicles in a mass protest over what they say is an illegal land grab for a construction project, Chinese media reported on Thursday.
Television footage showed several hundred villagers in Yunnan province`s Zhaotong city armed with shovels and sticks, clashing with workers and police who were trying to start building a new highway. The violence first flared on Tuesday.
Local police were initially outnumbered and the protesters overturned and torched scores of vehicles, including police cars. The villagers said their land had been seized illegally, and their compensation was inadequate.
Land seizures and forced eviction remain a common flashpoint in China, exacerbated by rocketing property prices in cities nationwide as developers aggressively source new land.
A string of high-profile suicides of embattled homeowners have stoked public anger over the past year. While Beijing has acknowledged the problem by laying out new rights for home and landowners, lax enforcement and public corruption remain entrenched problems on the ground.
Around 2,000 paramilitary and riot police eventually had to be deployed to contain this week`s violence in Yunnan, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.
A total of 50 vehicles were destroyed, among them ten police cars, the information centre added, while local media said around 20 people were injured.