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Macao riot police subdue dozens of mainland tourists
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Riot police were dispatched in Macao yesterday to subdue a group of furious mainland tourists who accused tour guides of trying to force them to pay for activities not on the schedule and threatening to abandon them without any food or accommodation, China News Service reported today.

Two riot police vans and about 30 riot police, armed with shields and batons, were brought in to calm the dispute, which lasted about eight hours, between 126 tourists and their tour guides, the report added.

The dispute ended about 10 PM when government officials were called in to mediate and the tourists, in four separate groups all from Tangshan City, Hebei Province, agreed to go back to their hotels, it said.

Four people were detained for questioning although it was unclear if they were tourists or the guides, police told the Post.

The dispute erupted when the tourists said their Macao guides, the report didn't say how many were involved, gave them a choice of paying 120 yuan to visit a casino or spend 420 yuan to attend an entertainment performance yesterday.

If they refused, they would have no food and no hotel despite having prepaid for the trip, the report said, reproducing an article by Macao Daily News.

The tourists were on the way to a beach about 2 PM yesterday when they were given the choice. The guides complained that "the mainland tourists spent too little," the report cited a leader of one of the four tour groups, surnamed Dong, as saying.

Dong said in the report that they asked the guides to reconsider the excessive activities, but found they were abandoned on the beach. Their drivers and guides disappeared, the report said.

The four tour group leaders soon found the drivers and the guides in a coffee shop, the report said. The two sides then argued, catching the attention of a policeman, the report said.

The officer asked the four leaders to go to a bus station near the beach after he spoke with the tour guides, the report said.

One of the leaders fell onto the ground and lost consciousness after she was allegedly attacked by the officer on the way to the bus station, the report said.

A female group leader allegedly slapped the police officer in the face, knocking him over, said another report, citing Macao Daily News. More than 10 police officers soon arrived. The tourists accused the officer of instigating the violence, said the report.

The remaining tourists became irritated and surrounded the police officer's car when he tried to leave the scene about 8 PM yesterday, the report said.

The furious tourists demanded the original policeman stay and started pushing and shoving the other officers, who tried to escort Dong and another male tour group leader away by force, the report said.

Ambulances arrived about 40 minutes later and sent those who got injured in the fight to hospitals, the report said. The 30 additional riot police also arrived at the scene, the report added.

The tourists were on a 15-day trip that included stops in Yunnan Province, Guizhou Province, Hong Kong and Macao, the report said.

The Macao government's tourist office issued a statement early today saying it was aware of the dispute, but considered it to be a one-off situation.

More than 2.4 million people traveled to Macao in October, more than half of whom were from the Chinese mainland, according to government figures.

(Shanghai Daily, December 6, 2007)

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