Villagers claim police beat protesters with sticks, leaving 10 injured Ten villagers have been injured in a clash with police over a land dispute in Zhongshan , Guangdong. The incident comes less than a month after provincial party secretary Zhang Dejiang warned local government officials to treat farmers fairly. The violence occurred on Wednesday when nearly 400 residents from Panlong village in the town of Sanjiao staged a sit-down on the provincial highway connecting Guangdong with Beijing. It was their latest move in a 12-year battle to obtain reasonable compensation for land taken by local governments for industrial development. Nearly 1,000 police officers responded to calls by town officials to clear the road. According to villagers, they used sticks to beat members of the crowd. Wang Dongdong , who lives in neighbouring Tuanjie village, said: 'I heard that four people were sent to Zhongshan People's Hospital and Huajiao Hospital with severe injuries on Wednesday.' Ms Wang said about six or seven villagers in total were injured that day. A resident of Heping, another nearby village, said two more villagers were beaten by police after dozens of people gathered again on the highway on Thursday night. 'So far, about nine villagers have been injured. We sympathise with them because we know the village committee paid them very little for the land - much less than the amount passed on by the town government,' the villager said. A textile factory worker said while the protest was an inconvenience for the factories, other roads could be used to bypass the trouble spot. 'My relatives complained that they took several hours to get home. But we all know that it's the last step for the villagers because nobody in the government is listening to them,' she said. The villagers have been locked in a battle with the Sanjiao town government over the 1993 seizure of 134 hectares of farmland for the development of a factory for a Hong Kong-owned textile group. Media reports yesterday said the textile group paid the local governments 1.65 million yuan per hectare in 1993, but the villagers only received 15,000 yuan per hectare in compensation from the village committee. Since then, the villagers have taken their demands for further compensation to various levels of government in the province without success, reports said. Three weeks ago, Mr Zhang issued a stern warning to provincial officials overseeing land requisitions to ensure paperwork and compensation payments were in order before allowing any construction to go ahead. He told a meeting of party cadres that there were 'three taboos' in dealing with land seizures. He said construction projects could not start without the documents and formalities being completed and without a democratic consensus on compensation reached with the farmers involved. Also, work could not begin if farmers had not been paid in full. Mr Zhang warned officials stepping over the mark in relation to the 'three taboos' and triggering trouble would be dismissed. His speech came in the wake of a series of land disputes between local governments and villagers, including the shooting deaths of three villagers in Dongzhou, Shanwei , on December 6, and the beating of human rights activists helping Taishi villagers with their land claims. Village and town officials denied there was a dispute.