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Published on Jun 30, 2008
China has ordered "rioters" to surrender following violent protests by 10,000 residents of a southern county angry over the alleged rape and murder of a local girl, a dissident website said Monday.
Residents of the restive county of Weng'an in southwestern Guizhou province reported a tense calm Monday amid a heavy police presence two days after huge crowds attacked and burned government and police targets.
"There are many police in front of the county government building and police station. Students are going back to classes, social order is back to normal," a resident who gave only his surname, Lai, told AFP.
The incident comes at a sensitive time for China's Communist Party rulers as they seek to showcase the nation as harmonious and stable ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.
The riots on Saturday were triggered by anger over the alleged rape and killing of a 15-year-old school girl amid reports that local officials were protecting the suspect, who has been identified as the son of the county's deputy chief.
The anger was further fuelled by the death in police custody of the girl's uncle after he protested the handling of the case, locals told AFP.
The state-run China Daily newspaper on Monday quoted officials as saying 10,000 protesters had taken to the streets due to "officials' alleged attempt to cover up a murder case of a girl student".
The dissident website Boxun.com featured a photo of a public notice ordering those involved in the rioting to turn themselves in.
Phone calls by AFP to the local police station went unanswered on Monday.
The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said Sunday that more than 1,500 paramilitary and riot police had been dispatched to the area and that nearly 200 people had been arrested.
Although numerous Internet postings on the violence were seen over the weekend, few could be found Monday. The government's Internet censors typically block information on such clashes.
China sees thousands of such outbursts each year as ordinary Chinese, faced with an unresponsive legal system and rampant official corruption, lash out violently at perceived government abuses and graft.