Chinese police injured in clash with villagers

BEIJING Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:59am EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police officers were injured in clashes with villagers on Wednesday in southwestern Yunnan province, state media said, in the latest incident of unrest over what appeared to be a land dispute.

Two hundred residents in Guangji village near the provincial capital Kunming stopped 11 officers on a highway after police had summoned two people a day earlier for alleged crimes, the official Xinhua news agency said.

When more police arrived to quell the disturbance they were attacked by the villagers, Xinhua said.

"Police maintained maximum restraint during the conflict," the news agency said, noting that 27 officers were injured, including one who was in critical condition.

No villagers reported injuries, Xinhua said.

The report did not say if the incident was triggered by a land dispute, one of the biggest sources of public protest in China, but it cited the Kunming government as saying authorities would "respect the demands of residents in land deals to protect their legal interests".

China is rife with stories of regional governments and construction companies using strong-arm tactics to force residents to move, often with inadequate compensation, to make way for lucrative property developments.

Forced evictions and land requisitions, which are widely thought to enrich officials unfairly at the expense of residents, have sparked tens of thousands of street protests and clashes over the years.

About 90,000 "mass incidents" - a euphemism for social unrest - occur each year in China, of which some two-thirds are triggered by land-related disputes.

The government has vowed repeatedly to crack down on illegal land grabs, but to little apparent effect.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Alison Williams)

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