Over 100 people have been arrested after last month's bloody disputed land skirmish in Hebei Province, according to a Xinhua News Agency report yesterday, and two former local Communist Party of China (CPC) officials detained for further questioning.
Seven were killed and another 48 injured on June 11 when more than 200 people armed with hunting rifles, clubs, sharpened pipes and other weapons reportedly attacked farmers living in huts on a piece of scrubland near Shengyou Village in Kaiyuan Township, Dingzhou City.
Preliminary police investigations indicate it may have been organized by two contractors, Zhang and Zhen, who were building facilities for a power plant near Shengyou. He Feng and Yang Jinkai, former Party secretaries of Dingzhou and Kaiyuan respectively, were among those in custody.
Six farmers and one attacker were killed, and eight of the 48 injured were in a critical condition, according to reports.
"A guy was shooting at us with a double-barreled hunting rifle," said farmer Niu Zhenzong to reporters soon after the conflict. Niu said he saw fellow villager Hou Tongshun being shot.
"The tragedy could have been avoided if the local governments had acted quickly to prevent the situation from further escalation," said Hou Jinshui, a Shengyou farmer.
Hou said a similar attack involving 20 unidentified people had occurred at the same place on April 20.
Both clashes were allegedly caused by a disputed land requisition between the village and Hebei Guohua Dingzhou Power Plant, a key state project.
Infringements have also been found during the requisition process and further investigations are underway, according to a joint group set up by the provincial and city land resource departments and discipline supervision departments.
The power plant requisitioned 25.8 hectares in Shengyou in 2003. Dingzhou's Land Resources Bureau said compensation for each mu (0.07 hectare) would be 15,480 yuan (US$1,800).
Some villagers were unhappy about the level of compensation and moved to the construction site at the beginning of 2004 in a bid to stop the building.
"The requisition decision was only made by the leaders of the village at that time," Hou said. "Most of the villagers did not agree to the sale of the land at all."
(China Daily July 11, 2005)