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China Says Villagers Burned Construction Workers to Death

Villagers carry police shields taken from police injured during clashes at Fuyou village in Jinning county, Kunming, Yunnan province, Oct. 15, 2014.

Chinese officials provided new details about what they say happened during a clash between villagers and construction workers in the southwestern province of Yunnan.

The government account, reported by the official Xinhua news agency, said villagers on Tuesday kidnapped eight construction workers while they were eating breakfast in the provincial capital, Kunming.

Xinhua said the villagers were angry that the workers had resumed building a logistics center, where construction had been stalled for several months because of a dispute over compensation for landowners.

The news agency said later Tuesday that hundreds of villagers had raided the construction site, throwing homemade explosives at the workers. It also said the kidnapped crew had been doused with gasoline and lit on fire.

Officials said six construction workers and two residents were killed in the incident. It is not clear how the residents died. At least 18 others were reported to be injured.

Government 'trickery'

Gao Shangpei, a local villager, told VOA's Mandarin news service that the official media reports were untrue.

“The government is employing trickery and trying to blame the farmers. [The government] controls the propaganda tools, and farmers are unable to speak in self-defense,” Gao said.

Efforts to reach the developer of the project or local officials have been unsuccessful so far. Local authorities said they were investigating the cause of the clash and vowed harsh punishment for those involved.

It is not uncommon for residents in China to become angry with large construction projects, often because of possible environmental harm or evictions that result from such developments. Sometimes the tensions result in clashes between construction workers and residents, though Tuesday's incident appeared to be deadlier than other recent incidents.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Mandarin news service.