Police detain nine over south China land riot

BEIJING — Police in southern China have detained nine people linked to a violent riot over a land dispute and issued an arrest warrant for the suspected ringleader, local authorities said Sunday.

Club-wielding rioters fearing forced evictions from their homes tossed petrol bombs and torched vehicles in a clash with police in Guangdong province’s Yangshan county on Tuesday last week.

Up to 10 people were injured in the clashes and several vehicles destroyed or damaged in the riot, state press reports said of the latest in a rash of violent incidents linked to land disputes.

Police have taken in nine people for questioning over the riot and issued an arrest warrant for Huang Qiusheng, the suspected ringleader, who remains at large, the county government said in a notice on its website.

Before the unrest erupted, police had gone to Tongru village to arrest Huang, who opposed the pending eviction and demolition of his home and was suspected of illegally manufacturing fire bombs, the government said.

During the riot, up to 40 villagers clashed with more than 100 police officers who responded with non-lethal “riot guns” and tear gas.

The government said items found in the village included a barrel of gasoline and several “sacks” of empty bottles, including 70 empty plastic water bottles. Police also confiscated two bullets and three bullet shells, it added.

China has seen a slew of violent clashes over land, many sparked by forced evictions as officials and property developers seek to cash in on a soaring real estate market.

Earlier this month, police in Guangxi province shot and wounded at least five demonstrators in clashes over a land dispute that also left 11 law enforcement officers injured, state media reports and a local official said.

And one person was killed and scores injured when police clashed with villagers in eastern China’s Jiangsu province over the forced eviction of farmers, residents and a human rights group said.

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