5 village leaders arrested after clash with police in China

Five village leaders were arrested in southern China after thousands of villagers clashed with riot police over an irrigation project that officials said was built illegally, Hong Kong media reported Friday.

The situation was quiet but tense in Bomei village on Thursday, a day after violence broke out when police demolished a sluice gate used for irrigation, the Ming Pao Daily newspaper said. One villager died and six were injured, the paper quoted villagers as saying.

The Ming Pao and the South China Morning Post reported that police arrested five village leaders on Thursday. The detainees, who didn't resist, were taken from their homes to a hotel, where they were being well treated, the Post quoted an unidentified villager as saying.

During Wednesday's fighting, villagers abducted three local officials and were holding them hostage near a second sluice gate slated for demolition, the Post said.

Officials in Bomei could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.

Several police in uniform and plain clothes were patrolling the streets and keeping villagers from talking to journalists, Ming Pao said. A Ming Pao reporter was detained shortly after entering the village in Guangdong, one of China's richest provinces, the paper said.

It said the villagers on Thursday displayed a big banner that read, "Protect water conservancy facilities" and vowed to "use their own blood to protect the sluice gates,"reports the AP.


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