A businessman in Saixi village said the clash occurred in the afternoon of April 20, when armed police opened fire on protesting villagers.
One man, identified as Chen Changfa, was killed, while five others were taken to Wenshan Hospital and 20 others were wounded less seriously, according to the businessman, who declined to be identified.
“One was killed and five were seriously injured. They are all in hospital where many armed police are on guard,” the man said.
“Everything is under control. One death is for sure. Local government has reported the fatal incident to the provincial government. But if you call the hospital to verify, I doubt they’ll dare to talk to you because the police are watching.”
According to the Chinese Human Rights Defenders network, police fired on up to 100 villagers, killing one instantly. The group said more than 20 protesters were beaten and several taken away for interrogation in a clash that began after a mining company began work on the new mine without agreeing to suitable compensation with the people in the village.
The Wenshan prefecture government said police initially fired warning shots, but when that proved ineffective they moved in to quell the protests.
The semi-official China News Service said five police officers and 11 protesters were injured and one of the demonstrators later died in hospital.
The official Xinhua news agency said one person was fatally shot and 10 others wounded when more than 70 villagers clashed with police. The villagers, armed with knives and clubs, attacked and wounded five police officers, it said. Police responded with guns, batons, and shields. Xinhua said the dispute involved illegal mining.
“I know there was a clash,” another villager said, before anxiously hanging up the phone.
An official at Wenshan Hospital declined to comment. “We don’t have the information in this office,” the official said. “Whom should I ask? Nobody knows.”
The village Communist Party chief said he was unaware of any clashes. “I don’t know about such an incident,” he said, adding “Everything should be settled,” before the line went dead.Land protests common
According to the Chinese Human Rights Defenders network, the villagers hadn’t agreed to compensation offered by the Zijin Mining Group, a major mining company, and were incensed when construction went ahead.
Li Baiguang, a Beijing-based legal counselor, said he suspected that “the incident may have something to do with the county governor Peng Hui, who was the former police chief.”
Peng enjoys no goodwill from villagers, Li said, and they may believe he benefited personally from the land deal, Li said.
Land disputes have spread across China in recent years, with local people often complaining that they receive only minimal compensation when the government sells tracts to developers.
The Zijing Mining Group, based in southern Fujian province and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, has plans to acquire other mining businesses in Malipo county, Wenshan prefecture, sources said.
Its subsidiary, Jinwei Co., specializes in exploration and acquisitions, and it was this subsidiary whose project sparked the clash, residents said. Original reporting by RFA's Mandarin service. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.