Hundreds clash with police in China's Shenzhen

Other News Materials 8 November 2008 08:26 (UTC +04:00)

Hundreds of people clashed with police in a southern Chinese city, throwing stones and setting fire to a police car after a motorcyclist died while trying to avoid a checkpoint, the Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday, according to Reuters.

The skirmish in Shenzhen, which lasted from Friday afternoon until early Saturday morning, started when relatives of the motorcyclist carried his body to a local police station and a group of about 30 people smashed items in the station and set off fireworks, according to the report.

The crowd later grew to 400 people, with some 2,000 onlookers, police said. Some threw stones and set fire to a patrol car before they were disbursed by 2 a.m.

The motorcyclist was identified as 31-year-old Li Guochao. Police said he was driving an unlicensed motorcycle and had rushed passed a checkpoint in the Bao'an district of the city, Xinhua reported.

He then turned around at a crossroad and drove back on the other side of the road. At that point, a checkpoint worker threw his walkie-talkie at Li, causing him to lose control and strike a lamppost, Xinhua said.

The checkpoint worker has been detained by police, but Xinhua said the city's public security bureau had determined that police had shown restraint in handling the unrest.

Protests and incidents of "mass unrest" had been rising in China -- sparked by a wide range of grievances from official abuse of power and corruption, seizures of land, and disputes over environmental and corporate issues -- but Beijing has not released statistics on protests for the past few years.

China's top police official has urged officers to avoid inflaming protests at a time of growing and increasingly complex social unrest.

In June angry residents in Weng'an town, Guizhou province, torched and ransacked police headquarters and government offices after allegations spread that police had covered up the rape and murder of a girl.