Several priests and lay people defending Church property have been injured during an assault by security officers and workers in China’s northern Shanxi province.

In the incident on August 29, Frs Chen Jun, Gao Binglong, Ma Ning, Shen Xuezhong and several lay people were assaulted by security officers and workers who came to demolish a building that had been returned to the church four years ago. Cui Hewen, a layman, was beaten by workers and suffered injuries to the head.

The incident happened in Wangcun village, part of Changzhi Diocese, according to ucanews.com.

Before the assaults, the priests joined hundreds of lay people sitting in front of heavy earth-moving equipment to block the demolition work.

News of the assault spread on the internet, with some Catholics calling for prayers. Others asked for more laypeople to go to the site and provide support. By the afternoon, about 20 priests and nearly 2,000 lay people gathered at the site.

Unable to carry on with their demolition order, the workers and security officials left the venue. Overnight, laymen stood guard at the site. “I fear that they will come back,” Fr Shen, parish priest of Wangcun Church, told ucanews.com.

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