Police in the northern city of Hai Phong are investigating a local company accused of hiring gangsters to evict farmers from a land plot to make way for the construction of a new factory.
The incident happened on Sunday when around 50 alleged gangsters dressed in plainclothes stormed into an 88,100-square-meter land plot slated to be the construction site of a Hoa Thanh Joint Stock Company shoe factory.
The municipal government agreed to grant the land plot in Tram Khe Village, Dai Thang Commune, to the company in November 2004, but construction has yet to get underway as residents have steadfastly refused to relinquish their land.
Residents have said the compensation price offered by the company is too low (VND23,000 per square meter), as it is below the price offered to other locals to make way for similar projects in the city.
At noon on Sunday, uniformed Hoa Thanh security guards and the 50 aforementioned men in plainclothes arrived at the site and began removing the tents which had been erected by residents to protest the site clearance.
Around 100 villagers whose land has been revoked rushed to the site.
A fight broke out, with 11 villagers sustaining injuries. A man and a woman named Luong Van Quy and Vu Thi Rich were the most severely injured. They said men plainclothes had hurled bricks onto their heads.
Local police showed up 30 minutes later and broke up the melee.
The residents told police that "gangsters" had beaten them with bricks and poles.
The local People's Committee ordered the security guards to retreat and forbade the company from beginning construction.
Hoa Thanh has denied accusations that it hired gangsters to beat the residents, saying it did not know who the 50 "strange" men were.