Armed police sent in to tackle latest Chinese riot

BEIJING, March 13, 2007 (AFP) – Police poured into a central Chinese city to quell riots sparked by rising bus fees, residents said Tuesday, in the latest incident to highlight rising social pressures in the fast-changing country.

Detachments from the People’s Armed Police joined local security forces in Yongzhou city in Hunan province overnight Monday, and by Tuesday the heavy security presence brought calm for the first time in five days, witnesses said.

“Things have calmed down today because they sent armed police forces with guns and metal rods last night,” a resident surnamed Lu, who did want to give her full name, told AFP.

She said the officers with the paramilitary force were observed beating people on the streets Monday night as they sought to restore order.

The protests erupted last Friday, escalating into major confrontations between local police forces, who are not armed in China, and more than 1,000 angry residents, according to locals contacted by AFP.

At least a dozen police cars, buses and other vehicles were overturned or set on fire between Friday and Monday, said a staff member surnamed Wu, of the Public Security Bureau’s branch in Zhushan town, the centre of the unrest.

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