Thousands of workers from the largest steel plant in Jilin province have attacked and killed a representative from China's largest private steel company in protest at a takeover deal. Workers from the Tonghua Iron and Steel Group, a state-owned giant, staged the demonstration on Friday morning after news spread that the Beijing-based Jianlong Group would buy a majority stake. According to internet postings and the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the workers used bricks and clubs to attack Chen Guojun , Jianlong's representative, and stopped police from entering the building to rescue him. A police officer from Tonghua municipal public security bureau yesterday confirmed the riot and the death of Chen, who was in his 40s. 'Yes, it did take place. Workers from Tonghua would not allow ambulance and medical practitioners to enter the building to rescue Mr Chen and he died,' he said. The police officer refused to give further details. Jianlong Group first invested in Tonghua in 2005 but decided to pull out early this year after it failed to turn the company around. But in recent months, as the price of steel has increased, the 50-year-old giant swung back into the black. In June it made a profit of 42.79 million yuan (HK$48.5 million), the website of Tonghua State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said. Chen was a former representative of Jianlong in Tonghua during the previous arrangement, and workers were told that he would become general manager after the deal. Some internet postings said the protest began by 3,000 laid-off workers, but the number swelled to 10,000 later. Tonghua has 20,000 workers after massive redundancies in 2005. Local television announced on Friday night that the deal would be shelved permanently. Workers dispersed after hearing the government's decision, according to a blog posting by a journalist in Tonghua. The total assets of Jianlong Group, founded in 1999 by businessman Zhang Zhixiang, have soared to 31.98 billion yuan this year after buying 17 subsidiary companies involved in steel, shipbuilding and engineering in a number of provinces, according to its website. Phone calls to Tonghua and Jianlong were not answered.