BEIJING (AFP) - Rioters in southwestern China torched government buildings and cars after anger over a probe into a schoolgirl's death exploded into violent protests, locals and state press said Sunday.
The riots occurred Saturday in Guizhou province when protesters ransacked three government and police buildings after the girl's uncle died from an alleged beating by police trying to stop him from protesting against the handling of the case, locals and Internet postings said.
The official Xinhua news agency said the riots had erupted due to "dissatisfaction" over the investigation into the girl's death, but added no further details.
Pictures posted on Internet blogs showed several thousand people gathered in front of the Wengan county police station, its windows shattered and the building smouldering.
The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said that over 10,000 people took to the streets in the protests, with up to 150 people injured in clashes with police.
Police have arrested nearly 200 rioters and Sunday were seeking to round up others caught on videotape ransacking the government buildings, the centre said.
Over 1,500 paramilitary and riot police have been dispatch to the county, it added.
Locals contacted by AFP by phone said protesters took to the streets after the deceased girl's uncle was pronounced dead in a local hospital on Saturday afternoon.
The uncle had protested against the conclusion of the police investigation that had determined the 15-year-old girl committed suicide.
He had been badly beaten as he sought justice after the death of his niece, locals said.
Internet postings said the girl had been raped and then killed nine days ago and that the police were trying to cover up the alleged murder and protect the suspect, who was identified as the son of the vice head of Wengan county.
Officials at the county government and police station did not answer telephone calls Sunday.
The uncle was a teacher at a high school and his students descended onto the police station after they heard he had died, locals said.
"Her uncle, who was beaten by police or gangsters hired by the police died Saturday," said one local who refused to name herself out of fear of police retribution.
"As he was a teacher at the local high school, students from local schools went to the police to ask for justice, dozens of them I think, then some students were beaten by the police, after they were beaten, they started fires at the police building and torched police cars."
The woman said she had donated money to the grandfather of the dead girl, who was in possession of the body and was refusing to allow police to take it away.
Photos on the Internet posted overnight showed a steady stream of police and military personnel and vehicles rolling into the city.
Internet search engines listed scores of postings on the riots, but access to most of the pages were blocked Sunday, indicating a possible government black-out.
"A group of unidentified people incited the crowd to attack the police bureau, the county government and the county (Communist Party) committee building," Xinhua news agency said.
"After this, a small number of criminals ransacked offices and even torched many public offices and several cars."
China's government and police are seeking to quell any unrest and ensure order across the country is maintained ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.
China's crackdown on unrest in Tibet against Beijing's rule in March drew international condemnation and spurred protests in several countries that disrupted the Olympic torch on its round-the-world journey.
Xinhua said the Guizhou government has taken measures to "appropriately" handle the situation.
Early Sunday, the crowd had dispersed and "the incident did not further escalate," the report said, adding "order has been basically restored at present in Wengan county."
Let me say that I don't actually wish
a vicious civil war on any country, but I doubt few can argue that China has been ripe for one for years, and ripening all the time. All I can say, no matter how tightly you control the system, no matter how well you arm the military and police, god help you once you've tipped 1.3 billion people past the boiling point.
First the Tibet uprisings and now this; there's signs it's coming to a head at last. If I could deliver a message to the Chinese people I would say, I look forward to the day when you can truly call your nation the people's republic of China. When you reach the steps of high government, I hope you get your chance to kill them to the last man, and display the corpses in public. It's less than they actually deserve, but even tyrants can die only once.
Edit- Maybe this should go in rant instead of poli, but the world increasingly pisses me off these days and makes me want to vent.
If I could have one wish, I want to be a James Bond super villain, where I would have to force to attack world nations that behaved like this.