Chinese shopkeepers armed themselves against looters in Argentina, shooting dead at least one rioter, state media reported yesterday in the first witness ac counts of the violence. At least 500 businesses run by ethnic Chinese were looted, the mainland's Reference News reported, adding dozens were injured. As well as turning guns on rioters, some traders ringed shops with gas cylinders and threatened to ignite them to deter looters, the report said. The report by a correspondent in Buenos Aires described some of the injuries as serious and life-threatening. No Chinese died during riots that swept the country last week, the paper said. The account contradicts reports in official newspapers last weekend that the Chinese Foreign Ministry had confirmed at least 10 Chinese traders had been killed or committed suicide. Reference News said at least two owners had saved stores by firing at rioters. After the shooting death of a looter, a crowd was driven away by police. A shop owner named You, whose store faced a main road, locked his premises and hired eight security men. On December 19, when a crowd of 1,000 attacked the store, 20 people inside kept the shutters down and set off a siren to frighten the crowd. After negotiations between Mr You, police and the crowd, he agreed to give the would-be looters food and provisions worth tens of thousands of dollars to save the rest of his stock, the report said. Others were not so lucky. Shops and homes were ransacked, with everything from stoves to soap stolen, the report said. Injuries suffered by shopkeepers included bullet and stab wounds. Gao Yong had a bullet pierce his liver and is fighting for his life in hospital. 'Nearly all the shops are closed and the owners do not dare to open them,' the report said. 'Without money, police and security guards will not protect their stores and the looters will come back. The biggest problem is to borrow money, resume business and continue to survive.' Last week, China's Ambassador to Buenos Aires, Zhang Shaying, held several meetings with senior government officials and the police, demanding better protection and compensation for Chinese. On Monday, the new Government of President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa said those whose businesses had been looted would be compensated. Days of riots left 27 people dead when Argentinians vented frustration over the country's economic crisis, forcing president Fernadno de La Rua from office. About 70,000 ethnic Chinese live in Argentina, of whom almost 60,000 come from the mainland, mostly from Fujian province. Their main businesses are restaurants, laundries, grocery shops and supermarkets. Of 4,000 retail chain stores in the capital, 1,800 are run by Chinese immigrants, the China Daily said yesterday.