BEIJING, July 19 (Reuters) - Chinese police have arrested 8 people after a violent clash outside a coal mine in north China that media said left dozens injured, highlighting the country’s festering problems of corruption and land ownership disputes.
Almost 200 people from the Shandong Coal Mine and nearby Fanjiahe village joined the showdown on Saturday, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a spokesman from Yulin, the city in Shaanxi province where the violence took place.
Land rights and property seizures have becoming a leading cause of discontent in a country seething over a growing rich-poor gap, worrying stability-obsessed leaders in Beijing.
More than 100 people launched an assault on the mine early Saturday morning, smashing gates to the main shafts and other areas in a bid to stop production. They were armed mostly with shovels and other simple tools.
The mine’s managers then mobilised 70 workers to fight back, and the two sides battled with bricks and stones, injuring 87, including both miners and farmers. Six were still in hospital.
The clash arose from a long-standing dispute over the mine’s ownership, the local Huashang Bao newspaper said.
Villagers who used to control the mine say its current operator had used forged documents to illegally claim ownership.
They sued the provincial Land and Resource Bureau, which gave out the new exploitation permit, and in 2005 a court ruled that it should be cancelled, the report said.
But land officials did not enforce the judgement and the new owner refused to hand over the mine, it said.
Local security officials declined comment when contacted by Reuters, while the government said there was no one available to discuss the incident.
The 8 people arrested were suspected of masterminding the incident, the Xinhua report said. Operations at the mine were suspended on Saturday as the government reviewed its accounts. (Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison and Liu Zhen; Editing by Alex Richardson)