She added, “Come save us.” Another villager said there were at least 10 deaths. “The riot police are gathered outside our village. We’ve been surrounded,” she said, sobbing. “Most of the police are armed. We dare not to go out of our home.” “We are not allowed to buy food outside the village. They asked the nearby villagers not to sell us goods,” the woman said. “The government did not give us proper compensation for using our land to build the development zone and plants. Now they come and shoot us. I don’t know what to say.” One woman said an additional 20 people were wounded. “They gathered because their land was taken away and they were not given compensation,” she said. “The police thought they wanted to make trouble and started shooting.” She said there were several hundred police with guns in the roads outside the village Friday. “I’m afraid of dying. People have already died.” Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper today quoted villagers who said authorities were trying to conceal the deaths by offering families money to give up bodies of the dead. “They offered us a sum but said we would have to give up the body,” an unidentified relative of one slain villager, 31-year-old Wei Jin, was quoted as saying. “We are not going to agree.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Although security forces often use tear gas and truncheons to disperse demonstrators, it is extremely rare for them to fire into a crowd – as the military did in putting down pro-democracy demonstrations around Tiananmen Square, when hundreds, if not thousands, were killed. State media have made no mention of the incident and both provincial and local governments have repeatedly refused to comment. This is typical in China, where the ruling Communist Party controls the media and lower-level authorities are leery of releasing information without permission from the central government. All the villagers said they were nervous and scared and most did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. One man said the situation was still “tumultuous.” A 14-year-old girl said a local official visited the village Friday and called the shootings “a misunderstanding.” “He said (he) hoped it wouldn’t become a big issue,” the girl said over the telephone. “This is not a misunderstanding. I am afraid. I haven’t been to school in days.” BEIJING – Armed with guns and shields, hundreds of riot police sealed off a southern Chinese village after fatally shooting as many as 10 demonstrators and were searching for the protest organizers, villagers said Friday. It was the deadliest known use of force by security forces against Chinese civilians since the killings around Tiananmen Square in 1989, and marked an escalation in the social protests that have convulsed the Chinese countryside. During the demonstration Tuesday in Dongzhou, a village in southern Guangdong province, thousands of people gathered to protest the amount of money offered by the government as compensation for land to be used to construct a wind power plant. Police fired into the crowd and killed a handful of people, mostly men, villagers reached by telephone said Friday. Accounts of the death toll ranged from two to 10, with many missing.