BEIJING—Thousands of rioters torched police and government office buildings in southwest China on Saturday, in unrest triggered by allegations of a cover-up over a girl's death, residents and state media reported on Sunday.
About 10,000 people mobbed government offices in Weng'an county, Guizhou province, on Saturday afternoon demanding justice over the teenager's death after her body was found in a local river, a resident said.
“Local residents were very angry about the injustice exercised by local authorities,” the resident, who is an official at a local government office, told Reuters by telephone.
“About 10,000 people rushed to the site and totally burned down the county party office building, and burned other offices in the county government.”
“They also burned about 20 vehicles, including police cars,” the official, surnamed Huang, said.
Huang said residents were angered when authorities declared the girl had killed herself by jumping in the river.
Residents believed the girl had been murdered by the nephew of a senior government official.
“They torched the buildings to vent their anger,” Huang said, adding that rioters had cut off a fire-truck's fire hose so that it could not extinguish the blazes.
The riot had prompted the province's public security chief to rush to the scene to help restore order, Xinhua news agency said in a report released several hours after accounts of the rioting appeared on Chinese websites and blogs.
People began to disperse from the site by 2 a.m. (1800 GMT) on Sunday and the county seat was gradually resuming order, the agency said.
Government and police offices did not answer phone calls on Sunday morning.
Blogs linked to the popular Sina.com Chinese website (www.sina.com.cn) showed pictures of thousands of people surrounding a police headquarters, riot police guarding the burning shell of the building, and burnt and overturned police vehicles.
Huang said the girl's family had rejected the authorities' offer of 3,000 yuan ($440) compensation, later upped to 30,000 yuan.
Residents had donated money to the family to sue local authorities, Huang said.
The rioting comes as China seeks to quell any unrest ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games in August. President Hu Jintao has said ensuring stability is a top priority ahead of the Games.
Some Internet reports said school students were at the forefront of the unrest in the poor, mountainous region.
Chinese websites quickly removed many messages about the incident, but others remained accessible.
($1 = 6.861 yuan)