China police open fire on protesters

AFP, Wednesday 19 Jan 2011

Twenty injured, five from gunshot wounds, after workers protest over pay in Guangxi province

Police opened fire on a crowd of protesters in southern China at the weekend, injuring at least five people, a rights group said Wednesday.

More than 100 workers were marching towards a government building in Guangxi region's Wuzhou city to protest about pay on Sunday when police blocked them and fired, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.

The Hong Kong-based rights group said at least five people were injured by bullets, and added that a total of around 20 people were being treated in hospital, some with gunshot wounds, others because they fell in the crush.

An employee at the Wuzhou Chinese medicine hospital, who refused to be named, told AFP that 18 people had been hospitalised, all of whom had been injured by gunshots.

But she refused to say who shot the patients, and AFP was not able to independently confirm whether police had indeed fired on the crowd.

A policeman in Wuzhou's Changzhou district confirmed to AFP that a protest had taken place involving workers' pay, adding it had been handled by another police force.

"Some migrant workers demonstrated in the street and many residents watched," the policeman said.

Another official at Wuzhou's public security bureau, surnamed Xie, told AFP more than 100 people had "illegally demonstrated."
"Our police went out and asked them not to do so," he said.

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