Police in northeast China shot and killed a homeowner who set himself on fire while trying to protect his property from a demolition crew, an official and state media said on Monday.
Government-backed land grabs have become China’s most volatile social problem as officials and developers seek to cash in on the nation’s property boom, sometimes forcing people out of their homes without proper compensation.
In the latest incident, Wang Shujie, 36, set himself ablaze after seeing his father shot and wounded, and started towards a policeman who opened fire, according to the China Daily.
The father had tried to wrestle the policeman’s gun from him after he fired warning shots into the air as the protest in Panjin, in the northeastern province of Liaoning, began to get restive, the newspaper said.
A local government official in Panjin confirmed Friday’s killing, but refused to go into details pending an inquiry.
But the People’s Daily – the official newspaper of the Communist Party – said on its microblog a preliminary investigation concluded the policeman’s actions were justified.
The China Daily said that with land disputes becoming more frequent, the government has forbidden housing demolitions without the owners’ consent, while police have been banned from intervening to protect developers in such rows.
But the rules appear to be often ignored.
In November, an 81-year-old woman died after setting herself on fire in a housing dispute in Henan province in central China.
The woman died at the scene, while her son and daughter-in-law were detained by police for 10 days for “disturbing public order” by pouring petrol over themselves in an attempt to deter the demolition, reports at the time said.