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Protesters reported beaten, detained in China

October 09, 2008

BEIJING (AP) Police have beaten and detained protesters holding a rally in southern China to seek compensation for damaged property, an activist group said Thursday.

Human Rights in China said in a statement that more than 500 police and paramilitary police clashed Wednesday with hundreds of village protesters in rural Sanjiang Town in Guangdong province's Xinhui District.

It said the protest followed a typhoon which collapsed the local dam, damaging farmland, fish ponds and farm property. Villagers blamed government officials for illegally selling and removing trees around the dam, which may have caused it to collapse, the group said.

Witnesses who used their mobile phones to record the police beating protesters were also detained, the group reported.

A spokesman at Xinhui District police station, who refused to give his name as is common among Chinese officials, said the issue was too sensitive and he could not comment on it.

Rural protests are common in China over land seizures and corrupt officials. Local government officials take land for infrastructure and housing projects, often with little or no compensation.

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