Residents say officers failed to stop the violence escalating Residents of a county in western Guangdong where more than 20 people were wounded in a simmering feud between two villages accused police of negligence yesterday and failing to prevent the violence from escalating. Last Friday, residents of Dameichen village in Huangpo township, Wuchuan county, said they were attacked by villagers from neighbouring Xiaomeichen with home-made rifles and bombs. Of the more than 20 people injured, most were from Dameichen. The victims were sent to hospitals in Zhanjiang city and were in stable condition last night. A Wuchuan city government official yesterday admitted there was a gunfight between residents of the historically antagonistic villages and that the incident was still being investigated. 'The situation is now under control. We are now doing our best to calm down the two sides. We will investigate the incident and arrest those who are responsible.' Police seized at least three homemade firearms and sent officers to stand guard outside the villages. Violence between the villagers was triggered by a dispute over a road construction project. Residents of Dameichen said they were provoked into fighting by the Xiaomeichen villagers, who they said had secretly prepared for the 'war' for weeks. They also accused police of failing to stop the violence. 'They [Xiaomeichen villagers] stocked up on bombs and rifles for weeks. Some of our people saw them smuggling illegal firearms into the village. We reported this to the police, but they did nothing,' said one villager. 'They were dressed in armed police uniforms and wore steel helmets. Where did they get this stuff? Some of their village heads have connections to the police.' A man from another village in Huangpo town also accused police of failing to prevent the violence from escalating. 'We had heard rumours weeks ago that the two villages were going to fight each other. Some families from Xiaomeichen sent their wives and children to our village,' he said. 'We also saw their men practising with guns and digging dugouts. It was obvious something was going to happen. We reported this to the authorities, but they just ignored our warnings.' Wuchuan party secretary Gao Yongyuan visited the two villages on Friday to try to mediate before the fighting started, but left after failing to persuade the two sides to make peace. An officer from Huangpo police station said two officers, including the head of the police station, were injured in the incident.