South China villagers riot over land dispute

South Chinese villagers wielding clubs and stones attacked an industrial park, incensed by reports that an official had sold land without compensating them, police and media said on Sunday in the latest flare-up over commercial development.

The riot broke out on Saturday in Zhongshan in Guangdong province, where rice paddy land has given way to factories that make many of China's exports.

Authorities said the violence was quelled by police who took away suspected organisers.

Residents of Yilong Village attacked the Jinrui Industrial Park in Xiaolan Town, and took part in attacking, smashing, looting and arson, the Zhongshan city public security office said on its blog. "Reports that villagers died in the latest eruption of land unrest were untrue," the Zhongshan police bureau said in a statement.

The Zhongshan police said the dispute over a patch of land had festered since August and become so heated that factories in the area had to halt production.

Caixin Magazine, a Chinese business journal, reported the dispute was sparked by complaints that a former village official had illicitly sold off land without paying residents compensation.

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