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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 21:35 GMT
China village fury at 'land grab'
Chinese police (TV grab)
Chinese police used tear gas to disperse the protesters
Chinese villagers have clashed with police after blockading a warehouse they said was built on illegally seized land, Hong Kong media reported.

Thousands of villagers in southern Guangdong province moved on the building on Wednesday as dozens of officials gathered for its opening.

Police arrived with tear gas after the villagers refused to leave, demanding an official inquiry.

Rural unrest over alleged illegal land grabs in China is a growing problem.

There are thought to be thousands of protests a year, with farmers in villages whose land has been taken often directing their anger at corrupt local officials who skim off the profits of its sale to developers.

'Very determined'

Hong Kong newspapers said the residents of Sanzhou village, near Shunde, moved on the warehouse on Wednesday, after months of protests over alleged land grabs.

They blockaded the entrance with debris, stones and wooden boards as local officials and foreign businessmen gathered for the official opening of the warehouse.

The villagers refused to leave until they had a promise that corrupt officials would be investigated.

6 Nov 2004: Paramilitary troops put down an uprising of 100,000 farmers in Sichuan province
10 April 2005: 20,000 peasants drive off more than 1,000 riot police in Huaxi, Zhejiang province
11 June 2005: Six farmers die in a fight with armed men in Shengyou, Hebei province
29 July 2005: Villagers in Taishi, Guangdong try to oust mayor
6 Dec 2005: Police shoot dead protesters in Dongzhou, Guangdong
14 Jan 2006: Police break up protest in Sanjiao, Guangdong, over land grabs

The protesters continued their blockade into Thursday, and were only dispersed when riot police arrived at the scene and used tear gas to clear them.

One villager was quoted by the South China Morning Post as saying up to 5,000 protesters remained on Thursday morning.

"We have been protesting against corruption for many months and we are very determined," the villager said.

Other villagers interviewed by Hong Kong's Apple Daily said they had discovered that half of the Sanzhou's 9,000 acres (3,650 hectares) was sold off illegally by officials last year.


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