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Woman's death leads to rare outrage in China

world Updated: May 10, 2013 00:30 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The death of young woman in a mall triggered a rare mass protest in Beijing on Wednesday with protesters clashing with the police, forcing authorities to shut down shops and block roads.

The 22-year-old woman Yuan Liya allegedly fell from the seventh floor of a mall in the Fengtai district of Beijing earlier this month.

Though the police have claimed that it was a suicide, demonstrators began to gather at the mall from Tuesday evening alleging that police were not investigating the case properly. Rumours flew that the woman might have been sexually assaulted before her death.

As the number of protesters grew, armed police personnel and para-military forces swarmed the area. Reports said police helicopters were dispatched to the area where the incident occurred.

State media reported that roads and shopping malls surrounding Jingwen were closed down to control the protest from spreading.

At least 2000 police personnel were dispatched to control the crowds.

The state media quoted the Fengtai police department, as saying that initial investigation, said security-camera footage showed Yuan her arriving at the mall alone on the evening of May 2.

"She committed suicide by jumping from the seventh floor the next morning, officers concluded," the report said.

"We found no evidence she had been in contact with any strangers before the incident," Zi Xiangdong, a spokesman for Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, said on Wednesday.

"There were also no suspicious signs discovered in checks at the scene or in the autopsy report."

Local shopkeepers, however, have urged authorities to thoroughly probe the case.

The police have also promised to crackdown on the protesters. They were scanning surveillance footage of the protest and "will detain those who severely disrupted social order."

Beijing seldom sees large-scale demonstration or mass protests. Tourist spots like the Tiananmen Square are heavily if discreetly guarded to stop people from gathering and demonstrating.