Reports of deaths at Chinese chemical protest false -state media

Reports of deaths at Chinese chemical protest false -state media

BEIJING - Reports that police killed 15 people and injured more than 300 during protests in southern China on Sunday are false, the website of the People's Daily, the ruling Communist Party's official newspaper, reported on Thursday.

Only two people were injured during the demonstration against a chemical plant in the southern city of Maoming, the newspaper's investigation found, and no one was killed.

It said a small number of criminals burnt a police car and destroyed storefronts and advertisements, and that reports of armoured vehicles into the city were false.

Protesters have told Reuters that they saw several people killed in the protests, and that dozens were injured.

Unverified photos circulating on Chinese social media early this week, which were later deleted by censors, showed demonstrators lying in pools of blood and ambulances taking away the injured.

People's Daily said some of the photos posted online were not of the demonstration at all, but old news photos of a domestic spat.

An unverifiable video of Sunday's protest, obtained by Reuters, showed police in riot gear chasing fleeing protesters, wielding batons and firing off tear gas guns. Images of the protests sparked a public outcry in China this week.

The protests are over a proposed plant that will churn out paraxylene, a petrochemical used in making plastic bottles and fabrics. It will be owned jointly by CNPC and Maoming's local government.

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