China

Wukan unrest: Chinese police offer rewards to find five suspects

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Media captionUnverified footage shows clashes in Wukan, as John Sudworth reports

Police in China have offered large rewards to find five people following violent protests in the southern fishing village of Wukan.

A notice of the 100,000 RMB (£11,000) rewards, and pictures of the five, were broadcast on TV in nearby Lufeng city.

It is not clear what charges they face, but police earlier arrested 13 people in an operation to quell protests.

The demonstrations followed the jailing of the village's elected chief, Lin Zuluan, last week.

The five suspects were named as Wei Yonghan, Cai Jiaxia, Yang Shaoji, Liu Hanchai and Hong Yongzhong.

Crushed by an overwhelming force

The notice, broadcast by the Lufeng public security bureau in Guangdong province, urged the five to turn themselves in and warned that anyone helping them would be punished.

Some villagers, however, have taken to social media describing the five suspects as heroes and encouraging others to protect them.

Image copyright Lufeng TV
Image caption Pictures of the five suspects were broadcast on local television
Image caption Images from Wukan showed riot police on the streets
Image caption Some images sent to the BBC showed villagers with injuries

Earlier, video posted online appeared to show clashes in the streets of Wukan with villagers throwing rocks at police who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The footage, which cannot be independently verified, showed one man being pinned to the ground by police in body armour, while other images showed bloodied villagers.

Lufeng police gave no details of the operation but said the 13 arrests were made for public order offences.

Wukan appears to have been sealed off by the authorities who have imposed tight control.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Lin Zuluan's supporters believe he was forced to confess

Trouble began when village leader Lin Zuluan was jailed for three years last Thursday for corruption.

He was voted in as Wukan's chief in 2012 in an attempt by the local government to end months of protests about illegal land grabs.

Anger over land seizures by officials had triggered an open revolt against local party leaders.

Lin Zuluan's election by popular vote was seen as a rare compromise by the Chinese government.

He remains hugely popular and his supporters say a televised confession was forced and the charges against him are political.

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