21 Jun 2009

Residents in central China protest over death

8:57 am on 21 June 2009

Police in central China's Hubei province have been called in to quash protests over the mysterious death of a man in a government-owned hotel.

The BBC reports that about 200 people are thought to have been injured in clashes between police and protesters.

Eyewitnesses told the Reuters news agency that many armed police were at the scene but had not convinced the protesters to go home.

A 24-year-old chef, Xu Yuangao, was found dead at the government-owned Yonglong Hotel on 17 June. Police say they found a suicide note but Mr Xu's family continue to allege foul play.

According to a short statement posted on the website of the Shishou city government, the police have kept in touch with Mr Xu's family to arrange an autopsy and confirm the cause of death, but the family refused.

Last year, the death of a 16-year-old girl in southwest China's Guizhou province led to riots involving 30,000 local residents, fired up by rumours that the girl had been raped and murdered.