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Police probe resident's death amid fight with mystery gang

POLICE blocked the entrance of a local community yesterday morning to probe the death of a resident who died during a fight with a "mysterious" gang that appeared linked to a district election on Wednesday evening. Residents were demanding answers after they accused the gang of beating eight of them as intimidation so they would not vote for a congress deputy. The 50-plus policemen lined up at the entrance to prevent residents from disturbing traffic by protesting on the road, as they had the previous evening to demand justice. Residents claiming to have witnessed the fight said a 42-year-old resident, Hang Hongqi, was "beaten to death by four men of the gang" while police said that the man "died suddenly when arguing with others." But the identity of the gang was still a mystery. According to residents, the gang consisted of 19 migrant workers hired by Jiangqiao Town Post Office who delivered letters on Wednesday to inform them of the election of district congress deputies. But the delivery men forced residents to sign their names after receiving the letters, with some indicating that by signing they were agreeing to abstain from voting, said 47-year-old Hang Yuexiang, sister of the dead victim. "I refused to sign and the four men became outraged and started beating me, scratching my hair and kicking me to the ground," said Hang. "That's when my brother showed up to help." Another resident, 50-year-old Jin Ruizhu, who suffered a head injury during the fight, said she saw the four men immediately turn to Hang's brother, hitting him in the face for several minutes and also beating those who tried to stop them. Jin said she saw Hang stand up after the fight, unable to respond to others. Seconds later Hang's face turned pale and he fell to the ground. Scratches were seen on his neck and blood was found in his right ear, said witnesses. The residents believed that they were forced to give up the right to vote because the community's neighborhood committee didn't want them to "bring trouble" to the election! . The v ictims said they had argued with neighborhood committee officials last month, telling them that they refused to elect any of the district officials to be congress deputies because they were not satisfied with their handling of housing quality problems. A report by the district's housing department said the apartments had serious quality problems, and the neighborhood committee had promised to fix them, residents said. In response, a committee official who refused to be named told Shanghai Daily yesterday that they had drawn up 260 letters for the post office to deliver to residents to inform about the election. "It is a total misunderstanding, as they were ordered to sign their name as a way to prove they were informed, not to give up the right to vote," said the official. She believed the gang was working for the post office because the letters were to be delivered urgently, and "the post office didn't have so many workers so they had to temporally hire some more." She admitted that the apartments in the community had been found by the housing authority to have quality problems, but she said the problems were not bringing danger to the residents. By late yesterday, the Jiangqiao Post Office didn't respond to phone calls from Shanghai Daily.

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