湖南公車事件!

A student was killed and at least 60 people were injured in central China when villagers armed with bricks and rocks clashed with baton-wielding police over rising bus fares, witnesses and news reports said Tuesday.Residents in Zhushan, a village in Hunan province, began gathering around a government building Friday to protest the new price of public bus tickets, said Jiang Zhaoyuan, who saw the demonstration that lasted through the weekend. The price had doubled over the Chinese New Year holiday in February.

The crowd swelled to about 20,000 by Monday and the protest turned violent when local authorities dispatched police, who started attacking people, said Zhang Zilin, a local human rights activist who rushed to the scene after a resident called him.

It was the latest in series of bloody confrontations between authorities and citizens, most over corruption, the widening gap between rich and poor, and official attempts to seize land.

On Tuesday, road blocks were set up to seal the area and police put up notices asking people who participated in the demonstration to turn themselves in, Zhang said. Other villagers said local officials were visiting homes and telling people to keep calm and stay off the streets, which were being patrolled by scores of paramilitary police.

During the peak of the violence on Monday, protesters were “very, very angry and were shouting ‘Beat the government dogs to death,'” Zhang, 22, said in a phone interview. They were throwing rocks and bricks at the officers and set fire to five police cars, he said.

At least 1,500 paramilitary police and riot police wearing helmets and carrying batons yelled back “Beat them to death,” Zhang said.

“They beat everyone including old people, children, women and people who were just passing by,” he said. At least 60 people were injured, Zhang said.

He said the clash lasted about five hours, starting midday, and villagers surrounded the government offices until 8 p.m. before dispersing.

Jiang, the farmer, said he saw a young man pummeled by three or four policemen with batons. “It was more than three hours before he could stand,” Jiang said.

A man who answered the telephone at the police station at Yongzhou, which oversees Zhushan village, first said he was “unclear” about the situation and then dismissed it as “rumors.” Telephones were not answered at government offices in Yongzhou.

Zhang said he did not have any details about the student who died, but Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (other-otc: SCHPY.PK news people ) newspaper said the boy was hospitalized on Sunday and died Monday.

Qing Zhao, a teacher at a local school, said four students were injured in the protest and he was told one of the boys later died.

“Who knows what will happen next?” Qing said. “People are scared from seeing so many policemen and soldiers.”

Jiang said the bus fare were originally 77 cents and it rose up to $1.90 over the Lunar New Year. On Tuesday, government officials said they would bring it down to 65 cents.

The incident came as China’s legislature was convening for its annual meeting. The ruling Communist Party has in recent years focused its efforts to develop the poverty-stricken countryside and improve the lives of its 800 million rural residents.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao mentioned rural education and health care subsidies in his opening speech last week, while the party has set aside billions of dollars in new farm subsidies.

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