Eight detained after clash injures dozens at NW China coal mine

14:36, July 19, 2010      

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Authorities in Yulin, a resource-rich city in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, have detained eight people over Saturday's clash at a local coal mine that left dozens injured.

The eight, including residents of Fanjiahe Village in Hengshan County and workers from Shandong Coal Mine, were suspected of masterminding the violence that involved almost 200 people, a spokesman with the Yulin city government said Monday.

More than 100 villagers, armed with shovels and other tools, entered the mining area at 8 a.m. Saturday. They smashed gates leading to the main shafts and other mine facilities, trying to stop production, he said.

Management of the mine mobilized more than 70 workers to drive the villagers away, he said.

The two sides ended up in a clash as they attacked each other with bricks and stones. A total of 87 people were injured, including 63 villagers and 24 mine workers, the spokesman said.

Six villagers suffered serious injuries and were sent to a hospital in downtown Yulin.

Operations at the mine were suspended Saturday as the management was reviewed and its bank account was frozen.

Investigators said the clash was triggered by an old dispute over the mine's ownership.

Shandong Mine, with 210 employees and producing 300,000 tonnes of coal annually, was founded in 1995 as a collectively-owned entity by residents in Fanjiahe village. Villager Fan Zhanfei served as its first general manager.

A shortage of capital forced the villagers to raise more funds and Li Zhao, a man from Shandong Province, invested as a partner.

When Li renewed the mine's license in 2000, he changed the business into a private firm of his own.

Fan and the villagers demanded the authorities nullify the change and took the provincial land and resources department to court.

A court in Yulin ruled in favor of the villagers in 2005 and ordered the new license be nullified. The ruling was backed by the provincial higher court in 2007.

The dispute between the villagers and mine authorities escalated after Li and his team failed to respond to the court ruling, the spokesman said.



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