A Chinese city announced on Tuesday it had scrapped plans for a copper plant after thousands of people protested the project’s possible health risks.

Shifang city in the south-western province of Sichuan issued a statement on the Internet saying it had decided to stop the project.

The city’s public security bureau earlier warned the public not to use the Internet or cellphones to organise more protests and asked those who had done so to turn themselves in within three days or face severe punishment.

Thousands of people including high school students concerned about pollution the plant would cause began to gather in front of the city government building and a public square on Sunday night, and the protests turned bloody on Monday afternoon after riot police moved in.

Anger surged as Internet users circulated photos and videos of riot police using tear gas and batons to end the protests. Some Internet users said one protester had died.

“People are very upset. How could the police beat them?” said Liu, a middle school student. A man who answered the phone at Shifang No. 2 Hospital said more than 30 people including police officers were injured but that they were discharged after minor treatment. He said no one had died.

The city government had earlier said it would delay the project after the protest and educate residents about it.

Liu said parents, classmates and teachers all objected to the project because of its environmental risks.

“It will make our home city a town of death.”


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