Villagers killed as land row escalates in fighting over land

TWO people were killed and a few dozen others were injured after a dispute over land ownership between two neighbouring villages in Guangdong Province developed into bloody fighting.

The battle, involving more than 1,000 villagers, took place in Baiyun district of Guangzhou, the capital of free-wheeling Guangdong.

According to the Hongkong China News Agency, Yongtai village and Lianbian village have had a long-running feud over the ownership of a plot of wooded and hilly land between them.

There was a fierce clash between the two villages last October.

Residents later took their dispute to the Baiyun district government and the local court.

''However, before the court could make a decision, the villagers, instigated by certain individuals, tried to settle their dispute by fighting again,'' the report said.

Guns, knives and sticks were used in the bloody clashes between the villagers.

Baiyun authorities immediately sent police to the scene.

Anti-riot police from the municipal government were also deployed to prevent outbreak of further violence.

No mention of arrests was made in the report.

Residents in Guangzhou noted that in the face of large scale urban re-development in the city, many plots of land which had been overlooked in the past had now become hot properties.

They said disputes and violence over ownership had occurred before, but were usually covered up to avoid alarming Beijing.

In February, hundreds of tourists fled in terror from a scenic spot in Guangdong as bomb-throwing mobs continued a row between rival communities over the share of tourist business.