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8 Dead in Construction Clash in SW China

Protesters hold up a banner which reads "Against garbage incinerator along east river" in Boluo county in south China's Guangdong province, Sept. 14, 2014.

China's state-run media say violence between construction workers and villagers in southwestern Yunnan province has left eight people dead.

The reports say the clashes broke out late Tuesday near the provincial capital, Kunming, where a "logistics center" is being built.

According to the official reports, six workers were burned alive by villagers while it is unclear how two residents died. At least 18 people were injured in the incident.

But Gao Shangpei, a local villager, tells VOA's Mandarin service that the official media reports are 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," said Shangpei.

Efforts to reach the developer of the project or local officials have been unsuccessful so far. Local authorities say they are investigating the cause of the clash and have 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 service.