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Thousands Riot, Police Forces Battle in China Over Travel Restrictions

Two days after travel restrictions on the central Chinese province of Hubei and its capital Wuhan were supposed to be lifted, thousands of residents flooded the streets in an angry protest that devolved into a violent riot.

The conflict reportedly began on Friday when police in neighboring Jiangxi refused to lift the travel restrictions, and continued to bar Hubei residents from passing into their province.

During the ensuing melee, Hubei’s police force battled with the Jiangxi police at a checkpoint on a bridge between the two provinces.

According to Radio Free Asia, at least five officers from the Jiangxi side were injured during the clash, “while some individuals who had turned out to support Hubei police upended a police car and destroyed other equipment belonging to Jiangxi officers including walkie-talkies.”

Video has emerged online that shows multiple police cars being turned over by the angry mob. @TruthAbtChina, a Twitter account that monitors inhumane practices in China, posted incredible video from the riot:

According to RFA, Jiangxi police at the checkpoint allowed a group of migrant workers stranded during the lockdown to pass, but refused to allow Hubei residents through to go back to their jobs in Jiangxi.

When Hubei residents protested in response, Jiangxi reportedly sent in riot police to seal off the entrance to Jiujiang.

Video footage posted to Youtube showed thousands of people marching up the approach road to the bridge, shoulder to shoulder with uniformed police from Hubei, shouting “Go Hubei! Go Hubei!”

“There was a clash between two groups on the bridge across the Yangtze River leading to Jiujiang in Xiaochi township, Huangmei county, Hubei,” a Hubei resident surnamed Li told RFA. “The fighting is still going on.”

“A police car from Jiujiang was overturned and the riot police were sent in as backup,” Li told RFA. The fight broke out at around 8:00 a.m., according to Li, and was still raging at 4.00 p.m. local time.

Another local resident told RFA that people from Hubei were angry about being denied entry to places throughout China, including accommodation in hotels and guesthouses.

Some five million people are believed to have left Wuhan shortly before the lockdown began in January, and many have complained of widespread mistreatment elsewhere in China.

“All the other provinces are discriminating against people from Hubei right now; stopping them from coming in,” He said.

“Everyone has been cheering Wuhan and Hubei during the epidemic, but they are very discriminatory towards them when they try to travel to where they are, and demand that they be isolated.”

There are conflicting stories about how the clash between the police forces started. According to RFA, the fighting escalated after Hubei police arrested a Jiangxi police officer. A resident in one of the videos below said Jiangxi police had tried to arrest Hubei traffic officers. “This behavior is very bad,” said Hubei resident Zhang Jun. “Our citizens were very angry. This is unbelievable.”