Armed police tightened their lockdown of a rebellious Chinese village Friday and went from house to house seeking leaders of violent clashes earlier in the week that villagers said had resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen people.
Residents reached by telephone said Dongzhou, a farming and fishing village 14 miles southeast of Shanwei city, in Guangdong province near Hong Kong, was quiet Friday for the second night in a row. But checkpoints were reinforced on roads leading in and out of the village, leaving its 10,000 residents blocked in unless they traveled by sea or walked circuitous routes.
Some families were still trying to recover the bodies of loved ones killed by pistol and automatic-weapons fire from People's Armed Police during confrontations Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the residents reported. Villagers said 14 to 20 people were shot and killed.
Their estimates were impossible to confirm; government and hospital officials maintained a strict silence and prevented Chinese news media from reporting on the violence.
The shootings marked a sharp departure from previous police tactics during a wave of peasant and worker unrest that has unfurled across China in the last two years. Until now, security forces had used water cannons and truncheons.
In Dongzhou, however, standard riot police were joined by People's Armed Police wearing camouflage fatigues and carrying automatic rifles. They opened fire, villagers said, after rioters pelted them with gasoline bombs and explosive charges that local fishermen ordinarily toss into the adjacent South China Sea to stun fish and increase their catch.
Dongzhou's residents have been engaged in a long-simmering protest against confiscations of their farmland for a wind-powered electricity plant. Compensation for the land was too low, they complained, and the project also seemed likely to ruin fishing in a tidal inlet.
The protests exploded into violence Tuesday after police arrested several villagers who had gone to the plant site to lodge a complaint.