Movie extras hired to stop villagers' protests

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More than 200 film extras were hired to pose as security guards to prevent local villagers halting demolition work in Beijing, yesterday's Beijing News reported.

Aspiring actors who had gathered outside a film studio waiting for opportunities in background scenes were shipped to Zhangguozhuang Village in suburban Fengtai District to work as temporary guards on June 17.

They were promised 60 yuan (US$9.28) per day and required to maintain order and keep local villagers away from a construction site, the report said.

Dressed in camouflage, the actors joined a large number of genuine security guards at the site. The total number of "guards" was then at least 2,000, actors told the newspaper.

Some 50 villagers at the site created a human wall, trying to stop guards entering the site. The guards were directed to break into the wall and disperse the crowd.

"They didn't hit us. They used their bodies to break us apart," a villager surnamed Zhang said.

A 72-year-old woman passed out during the clash and was taken to a hospital.

The villagers were trying to stop the demolition because they were not satisfied with their compensation. The land had been earmarked for Beijng's Metro Line 14.

Villagers had been offered 30,000 yuan for each mu (667 square meters).

The construction project was being delayed due to protests by local villagers, said Tian Tao, deputy county chief of Changxindian County, which oversees the village.

After discussions with the project contractor, the Fengtai government "had to" hire security guards on June 10 and 17 to disperse the crowds, Tian added.

The government was unaware that actors had been recruited to pose as guards.

The recruitment was carried out by the contractor, Tian told the newspaper.

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