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Calm returns after school brawl

THE Dongfang City government in south China's Hainan Province dispatched more than 100 officials to calm villagers following a violent protest that stemmed from a middle school brawl, a senior official said yesterday.

At least two bystanders were injured, and a township government building and a local police station were damaged in the protest, according to the city's Party chief Wang Heshan.

Wang said the officials went into all villages under the jurisdiction of Gancheng Township, about 250 kilometers southeast of the provincial capital of Haikou, early yesterday.

Hundreds of residents of Gancheng Village protested in front of the township government building on Monday afternoon after two or three students from Gancheng and Baoshang villages were involved in a fight, according to Fu Bo, Dongfang's chief public relations officer.

Gancheng has had a troubled relationship with Baoshang for decades, with frequent brawls between residents of both villages, each with a population of about 10,000.

Gancheng villagers in Monday's protest blamed the township government for not properly handling the village dispute.

The villagers claimed several children had been beaten by unidentified people and the local government and police had not intervened.

The protest became violent at about 7pm on Monday when the Gancheng villagers damaged the government building and set fire to the local police station, officials said.

The villagers also burned a vehicle owned by the township government and a police car and set fire to some government documents.

The crowd had dispersed by 1am yesterday.

Another trouble spot in China's northwest was also reported quiet after earlier mass violence. The social order in Ragya Township in Qinghai Province has been restored after a group of people, including about 100 monks, attacked a police station on Saturday, local authorities said.

Quiet streets

The lives of the monks and local residents had returned to normal on Monday, authorities said.

Shops were open as usual, vehicles were moving freely and monks and residents were walking on the busy streets, officials said.

"I see nothing different from normal except the few police cars patrolling the streets," a restaurant manager said. "My business is not affected."

Officers are still hunting for Tashi Sangpo, 29, a lama at the Ragya Monastery, who escaped from a police station on Saturday in Ragya in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Golog.

His disappearance sparked a rumor that led to a riot involving several hundred people from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning, police said.

Sangpo was from the Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province, police said.

He was detained on March 9 for allegedly distributing leaflets advocating "Tibetan independence" and for unfurling a snow lion flag, the symbol of "Tibet independence."


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