Chinese farmers fight officials for fossils

Irate residents responded by forming a "dinosaur fossil protection team" that took money donations and organized a patrol against officials who tried to enter the village in this poor, often restless farm region.

"If government staff were discovered approaching the village, they would let off two blasts as a signal to swiftly call all the residents to the village entrance," the report said.

The report did not say why the villagers wanted to control the dinosaur remains. But China’s regular finds of rare fossils, sometimes smuggled out of the country to be sold for big sums, can offer a windfall to struggling farmers who see them as their own property.

In March this year, the Shaping villagers wielding hoes and other farm tools seized vehicles of officials who tried to enter. In another clash the following month they pushed a police vehicle into a gully and beat and seized officials, the report said.

After an hour of confrontation, police took away ringleaders and ended the clash, the report said. The seven now face trial for using violence and threats to obstruct official duties.

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