Two die as villagers ambush forestry staff

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, 12:00am


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Eighteen men have been arrested after two forestry officials were killed in a violent confrontation between villagers and lumber workers in Gansu province, a provincial newspaper reported yesterday.

The violence highlighted tension among rural villages where rivals often fight over control of resources, ignoring orders from local governments.

The Min county Government sent in dozens of police officers to control the situation. The county Government oversees Yanjia village, where the clash erupted, and the Heihu Lumber Farm.

Violence flared last Tuesday when 11 forestry officials and police officers from Heihu farm went to the village in two Jeeps to rescue a colleague who was being held over a dispute, according to the Lanzhou Morning Post.

After they failed to see village leaders, the team returned in the evening to Heihu farm. At 9pm, they were ambushed by 'several hundred' villagers who used a tree trunk to block the road.

The villagers threw rocks at the officials. One driver was knocked unconscious and the Jeep ran off the road. The people in the other Jeep managed to escape.

Farm instructor Xin Husheng and Huo Wenping, the chief of the police bureau at Heihu farm, were later found dead. Seven farm officials and police officers were injured.

Villagers in Yanjia village had been fighting with the Heihu farm for many years over the control of grassland in the area, according to the newspaper.

Farm director Chen Guizi was one of the injured officials. Interviewed by the newspaper, he said the villagers were cruel. 'I saw them knock out the teeth of one of the forest policemen,' he said.