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Police Quell 250-man Rumble in Beijing

It was like a scene from a movie: more than 250 workers, armed with the tools of their trade, locked in a construction site face-off. Meanwhile dozens of policemen, submachine guns in hand, closed in.

But this was no film, the confrontation happened on Wednesday afternoon at the Tiantian Garden housing estate in southeastern Beijing's Chongwen District, the Beijing News Daily reported.

Around 10 police teams rushed to the scene to quell what threatened to be a serious battle. No injuries have been reported.

According to the Beijing News Daily's story, property management officers speculated that the stand-off may have been the result of conflict between the estate developer and householders who might have hired migrant workers to bolster their side.

But at press time, police had given no details of the "Kungfu Hustle" style standoff as the case was still under investigation.

"At about 3 PM on Wednesday, four buses arrived at the construction site and more than 100 workers rushed down with spades in hand," a shop runner near Tiantian was quoted as saying.

A guard at the construction site who did not reveal his name described the scene as follows: the workers broke into the site and yelled that they wanted to see the estate developer, workers inside gathered together to confront the invaders, he said.

Dozens of policemen some in riot gear, some armed with mini submachine guns rushed to the site, the report said.

Workers were identified, with the invading force numbering 170, and those already working at the site totalling 86.

At about 5:50 PM, all workers, as well as the estate developer and bus drivers were taken to police stations. After 7 PM, workers returned to the site, the guard said.

Neighbouring residents said the incident may have been the result of a delay in payment to migrant workers, a theory the site guard rejected.

"Workers never hire buses to come and ask for money," he said.

(China Daily November 25, 2005)

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