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Violent Clashes Break Out in China Over Proposed Route for Railroad

Videos posted on social media appear to show Chinese riot police brutally beating protesters, who took to the streets to demand the railway pass through their city.

by Scott Mitchell
May 18 2015, 2:45pm

Screengrab via YouTube/UnTold Media

Unconfirmed reports say four people have been killed and more than 100 injured during protests in the southwestern Chinese province on Saturday over the planned route of a new railroad.

Footage emerged over the weekend showing riot police beating protesters and being pelted with stones, during demonstrations in the city of Linshui.

Some reports claimed tens of thousands of people marched against the planned route of the new rail line. Residents are angry about the apparent decision for the route to bypass Linshui, which has no train line or airport despite being home to a population of nearly 1 million people. 

It will reportedly stop at the nearby town of Guangan instead, which has a population half the size of Linshiu and is already served by several rail lines. Guangan is the birthplace of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

Footage posted on social media showed groups of police kicking and beating protesters with batons. Photos were posted of bloodied protesters and burning police vehicles.

Other videos showed protesters throwing rocks at officers.

Authorities said more than 30 police officers and 38 civilians were injured, reported the Associated Press. More than 100 people were charged.

Several online petitions and letters have been circulated online by Linshui residents, said the South China Morning Post, accusing Guangan politicians of using political clout to cut Linshui out of the railway. 

One open letter stated: "There are two railways passing through Guangan. We are the only county in the region that has nothing [...] The Guangan authorities are taking advantage of their prerogative [as the hometown of Deng] to monopolise resources."

Photo via Weibo

Photo via Weibo

"Now we only have an expressway," said one resident, speaking to the Wall Street Journal. "We desperately need a railway to boost our economy."

The crowd chanted: "We want to develop! We want to be rich! The people of Linshui want the railway!" reported the Telegraph, which four people were killed according to conflicting and unconfirmed online reports. A local activist told BBC's China service that thousands of security forces had arrived in the area by Sunday.

The government of Linshui County said in a statement the weekend's disturbances "had caused some police and ordinary people to be injured but nobody died." 

Follow Scott Mitchell on Twitter: @s_mitchell

Screengrab via YouTube/UnTold Media

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