Pic: AP.

BEIJING (AP) — Villagers in southwestern China infuriated by a factory that was polluting the environment have smashed its offices and equipment, and later clashed with police, underscoring the potential for such concerns to trigger violent unrest.

Residents of Baha, a village in Yunnan province, say that police are arresting people involved in Friday’s clash at the local police station. The official Xinhua News Agency says police have identified 16 suspects.

Three villagers reached by phone said Wednesday that they had grown increasingly angry over a local metalwork factory that had been coughing up black smoke and discharging polluted wastewater.

Environmental protests are on the rise in China, with most taking place in developed coastal region, but the latest unrest highlights the spread of environment concerns further inland.

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