HUNDREDS of Muslims fought with armed police who demolished a mosque in north China with several people injured in the "riot", police and a human rights group said.
The violence between local Muslims and roughly 1000 armed police began after police declared illegal a newly renovated mosque in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and moved to destroy it, the Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, in Hong Kong, said.
The Hui are one of several Muslim minority groups in China.
Two people were killed and 50 injured after police fired tear gas and used knives and batons to beat back ethnic Hui Muslim protesters in Taoshan village, Hexi township, the rights group said, citing villagers.
Hexi township police denied any deaths when contacted.
A policeman surnamed Ma confirmed that the mosque was torn down. He told AFP a "riot" occurred in Hexi on Saturday afternoon.
"Two police officers and two villagers got injured and several villagers were taken away by the police, but I don't know how many," Ma said.
One Taoshan local, who was away when the violence occurred, said his relatives had told him over the telephone that on December 30 an official had shouted "(the mosque) is illegal" and ordered the armed police to tear it down.
"Clashes happened and more than 100 people went missing," Jin Haitao told AFP. He said many villagers' injuries were caused by police using a high-pressure water cannon to disperse those trying to stop destruction of the mosque.
Read more: (News.Com.Au)