BEIJING: Local authorities have punished 17 officials in southwest China after one of the most violent land conflicts in recent years left eight people dead, state media reported Thursday.
The Oct. 14 clash centered on a dispute between villagers and a property developer in Yunnan province over compensation for land. Authorities previously said that residents of Fuyou village detained several construction workers and burned four of them to death. Two other workers and two villagers also died, and 18 people were injured.
The incident cast a light on the plight of rural residents who see their livelihoods threatened when their lands are seized by developers with the backing of local governments keen on economic development, and state media editorials at the time blamed the local government.
An ongoing investigation by the government of the provincial capital of Kunming has found that villagers kidnapped eight workers, raided the construction site and threw self-made explosives, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The head of Fuyou village council, Li Jiaming, was arrested on Tuesday on charges of taking bribes several times since entering office in April 2010, Xinhua said.
Nine officials in the higher-level county and township authorities were removed from their posts and another seven suspended for neglect of duty, it added.
Land disputes are common in China. The government technically owns most land and can seize property for projects deemed in the public interest. Villagers, left with no means to seek redress, often resort to violence.