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Street protest blocks city traffic

THOUSANDS of angry people protesting over the heavy-handed tactics of local urban management officers brought traffic to a standstill in a southwest China city.

The crowds started to gather yesterday afternoon and did not disperse until early this morning in Sichuan Province's Nanchong City, today's Shanghai Morning Post reported.

Urban management personnel, who are not police but are on city payrolls, have been under fire recently for their heavy-handed tactics in clearing vendors off the streets and maintaining order. They are known colloquially as "big hats" because of their official hats.

The Nanchong urban management administrative bureau sent officers to disperse illegal traders in the city's Honghua Street after receiving complaints that vendors there were blocking traffic, bureau official Zhang Ping told the newspaper.

After the officers arrived, a fight broke out between the officers and the traders. A vice bureau director in charge of the officers was injured, he said.

When more people crowded round to watch the fight and blocked traffic, the officers asked the city's riot police for help, Zhang said.

But the conflict escalated after the police arrived and beat up and injured a student.

Thousands more gathered and traffic was completely blocked in the Wuxing Park area, the city's main commercial zone.


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