Clashes broke out in Shishou city, Hubei province, when more than 10,000 angry residents blocked police from entering a hotel to retrieve the body of a 24-year-old chef who died mysteriously on Wednesday. More than 1,000 riot police were sent to the scene as tension escalated yesterday after a three-day standoff. According to a government statement and witnesses, the body of Tu Yuangao, was found outside the door of the Yonglong Hotel, where he worked as a chef. Residents said Tu's father placed the corpse in the hotel lobby and demanded an investigation into the cause of his son's death. Police insisted Tu had committed suicide and demanded the body be handed over for cremation. Tu's father refused and even threatened to set a gas tank alight, according to residents. Onlookers stood by the father and more joined forces to stop officers during several attempts to seize the body. Residents contacted by the Sunday Morning Post yesterday, and a number of postings on the internet, said the corpse remained in the hotel until last night. Some said as many as 50,000 protesters had gathered outside the hotel. The locals alleged that senior cadres in the police, court and electricity bureau were shareholders in the hotel, which had been identified as a place where drugs were sold. They claimed a girl had died in similar circumstances a few years ago. A statement posted on the Shishou government's website said 'masses who did not know the true story blocked the roads with barricades on Dongyueshan Road and Dongfang Avenue and interrupted traffic on June 19'. The city's party secretary, Zhong Ming, and mayor, Zhang Shancai , had arrived at the scene, it said. The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said 200 protesters had been injured during the clashes with the police.