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Quiet in Hainan after cops deploy

MORE than 1,000 police officers have arrived in Gancheng Township in south China's Hainan Province where clashes between two villages have left one person dead and nine others injured, authorities said yesterday.

The bridge connecting the Gancheng village and Baoshang village, each with a population of over 10,000, is now under the control of the police to prevent further clashes, said Jia Dongjun, Hainan's police chief.

He added that the situation had improved since the massive police deployment.

The trouble started on Monday night when angry villagers gathered at the township government to protest the lack of action by officials in dealing with a fight between a student from Gancheng village and another from Baoshang village.

The protest become violent when the villagers' demands were not met. The office buildings of the township government and the police station and a local inn were smashed and burned.

Clashes since then have resulted in the death and injuries, according to the information office of Dongfang City government.

Zhang Ji, 32, from Baoshang, died after being stabbed in the head and arms during a fight, police said.

Local residents have been unhappy with the police because several children so far this year have been attacked by unidentified people. Police have made little progress in those cases, said Shi Wen, who was in charge of dealing with the clashes.

"They were protesting the failure of local government and police to maintain public security," Shi said.

Two officers of the local police station have been sacked.

In addition, underground gambling houses of the two villages were competing with each other. Some people were inciting villagers to fight in the name of protecting their own villages, Shi said, adding, "We are hunting for suspects who instigated the violence."

Some 100 local officials were trying to calm residents.

The two neighboring villages have had a troubled relationship for almost 80 years. There have been frequent brawls between residents, said Su Tianfang, who used to be the Gancheng village head.

Police were investigating whether the latest clashes were related to a land dispute.


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