Police and paramilitaries swarmed the area around a shopping centre in southern Beijing on Wednesday as hundreds of people mounted a protest over the death of a young woman. Helicopters flew overhead and dozens of police vans surrounded the scene at the Jingwen shopping mall in Fengtai district. The unrest is thought to have begun because marchers believed police had not properly investigated the death of the woman, from Anhui, or claims that she had been raped before she fell from the building. Protests are becoming increasingly common across China, but authorities are particularly sensitive to such outbreaks in the capital. A shopkeeper who gave his name only as Mr Li said that some police had arrived at around 10am, followed by around 200 people who paraded down the street shouting "Protest! Protest!" The rapidly growing number of officers then closed the road for the rest of the day, he said. Photographs of the scene posted online showed hundreds of people on the street, although it was not
clear how many were protesters and how many were onlookers. One bystander said that officers had clashed with protesters, beating them and dragging them into vans. On the Sina Weibo microblogging service, the name of the bridge where the protests took place was being blocked, as was that of nearby Yongdingmen. But "Anhui Girl" was trending as a top-10 search term. Officers at Fengtai police station declined to comment on the protest and said its propaganda office would give more details later. Beijing police posted a statement on their microblog in the early afternoon, saying the woman's death was under investigation. It said she came to the shopping mall on the evening of 2 May and fell from the building at 5am the next day. It had not found she had contact with anyone during that time.