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Chinese authorities have stepped up efforts to take control of a village in southern Guangdong province whose 13,000 residents are fiercely resisting attempts to seize their land for the last six years.
Hong Kong media carried a number of videos showing heavily armed riot police managing to enter the Wukan village amid fierce resistance by locals armed with stones and Molotov cocktails.
The videos posted on the social media also showed police breaking into the houses at night and detaining people.
Another video showed deserted streets with groups of riot police guarding various areas.
Foreign media have been prevented from visiting the village.
“Riot police are stationed at the entrance to our village. No-one can go in or out,” one woman, surnamed Cai, told the BBC.
“I can’t see any hope in this. The villagers feel so angry,” she said.
The Hong Kong-based ‘South China Morning Post’ protested today over the detention of its reporter who went to the village to interview locals. He was subsequently released.
Photos sent to various foreign media showed injured men and women with blood splattered clothes.
Police have accused villagers of spreading false information.
Wukan, known earlier as one of the affluent and model villages, rose up in arms in 2011 over forcible takeover of land.
Lin Zuluan, the village head and local ruling Communist Party of China, (CPC) has become hero of the villagers after he put up stiff resistance against the land grab attempts by provincial officials.
He was subsequently arrested and sentenced to three years for corruption last week.
In a bid to pacify the villagers, local officials have decided to return some disputed land to the Wukan village following the sentencing of Lin.
State-run ‘Global Times’ in a report on September 13 quoted mayor of Shanwei city Yang Xusong as saying that the authorities had addressed all of the Wukan villagers’ legitimate demands for land.
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Some disputed land has not been returned to owners either because the villagers’ appeals are not supported by the law or because they must collect further evidence to prove their ownership is valid.
Yang said Shanwei and Lufeng have officially registered 572 hectares of land in Wukan for which clear ownership has been established and have issued 31 certificates of ownership to the village Party committee.