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Confusion as stall owners fight move

AUTHORITIES in a southwestern China's city - besieged by thousands of angry residents whose protests paralyzed downtown streets - have denied reports that urban management officials beat a student during a crackdown on unlicensed street vendors.

But by the end of the day, it wasn't even clear that a student had even been hurt.

What is certain is that many stall owners in Nanchong City, Sichuan Province, reacted strongly when urban management officials tried to shut them down, the Sichuan Online Website reported yesterday.

A confrontation between some of the owners and urban management officials attracted many passersby, and the crowds clogged traffic during rush hour, the report said.

The seeds of the dispute were sown a week ago when the urban management authority in Nanchong's Shunqing District issued a notice urging vendors to relocate their businesses.

Most obeyed the order, but Cheng Yanhui, owner of a funeral supply store, refused. She attacked Jiang Jianming, chief of the law enforcement team of the Shunqing urban management authority when officials were moving some of her goods from the street to her home, the report said.

When officials seized her tricycle, her husband, Chen Ziqiang, began to beat another official and then fled when others tried to stop him.

Cheng then sat on the ground holding the leg of Han Changzhe, deputy director of the Shunqing urban management bureau, yelling that the couple had been beaten by urban management officials.

Senior government officials and police officers then arrived at the scene. Cheng claimed to be severely injured and a large crowd had gathered. She was taken to hospital, but found to be uninjured and the crowd dispersed.

Earlier reports said that the conflict had escalated after police beat up a student.


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