November 18, 2014 / 3:12 PM / in 3 years

Chinese villagers clash with police over leprosy, STD facility

BEIJING (Reuters) - Villagers in a southern Chinese island town clashed with police and smashed vehicles after the local government began construction on a center to house patients with leprosy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Eight people, including five government officials and a police officer, suffered minor injuries in the riots, which occurred in Sanjiang township, part of Haikou City near the northern coast of Hainan Island, according to a report on an official Hainan government website. Ten government vehicles were overturned.

The website said the protesters were concerned about "environmental pollution".

Local government officials had earlier dispatched officials and medical experts to address the concerns of local residents, the report said. Following the unrest, the Haikou City government suspended the project and set up a working group to "eliminate misunderstandings".

Construction on the facility, which is intended to admit patients who have been treated for leprosy and venereal disease and are no longer contagious, has been halted.

Tuesday's violence is the just latest incidence of unrest in the world's second-biggest economy. In May, protesters outside the tourist city Hangzhou clashed with police over government plans to build a huge waste incinerator.

Reporting by Matthew Miller; Editing by Alison Williams

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