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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
China riot village draws tourists
By Francis Markus
BBC News, Shanghai

Overturned buses in Huaxi, Dongyang
Photos of the riot damage have circulated on the internet

A Chinese village has become a tourist attraction after residents fought a pitched battle with police, who retreated after dozens were injured.

Local residents say the riots started after police manhandled a group of elderly women protesting at pollution caused by local chemical plants.

The unrest is one of a series of recent outbursts of frustration and anger in rural China, over various issues.

Residents say tens of thousands of people from nearby towns and cities have flocked each day to visit the site of last Sunday's confrontation, in the village of Huaxi, in eastern China's Zhejiang province.

Thousands of angry villagers forced a huge contingent of police to beat a humiliating retreat.

The debris left after the riot is still lying there for all to see. Chinese internet bulletin boards have shown photographs of the overturned buses, used to ferry in the police, with their windows shattered.

Pollution fears

The elderly protesters were encamped outside a cluster of chemical factories.

They claim the plants are responsible for polluting the environment and poisoning crops within a radius of several kilometres.

They say an unusual number of village women have suffered stillborn babies.

Although the police have retreated with dozens of them reported injured, local residents are bracing themselves for their return.

They say the village was the site of a smaller protest, also over pollution, three years ago, when about 10 people were arrested.

One local man told the BBC that people were calmly awaiting the outcome this time, fully expecting that many more people will be detained.

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