Johannesburg - More than 10 villagers from southern Zimbabwe have been injured in running battles over a lucrative gold claim, the state-run Chronicle reported on Monday.
The villagers, from the Silobela area, said they were savaged by police dogs as they tried to pan for the gold. Locals insisted they discovered the gold first.
They said a well-connected figure chased them off the claim with the help of police, according to the report.
Village headman Msongelwa Makaba said: "Locals discovered the gold claim and many youths then descended on it. But (Vuruyai) Marima and the police quickly barricaded it. Police vehicles could be seen carrying gold ore."
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Marima told the newspaper: "Indeed there is a gold rush but I'm the rightful owner of the claim."
A police spokesperson denied knowledge of the gold rush.
The Chronicle reported that more than 10 villagers showed its reporter scars from the attacks by police dogs.
In 2008, armed police and soldiers with dogs chased away hundreds of illegal panners from Zimbabwe's Marange diamond fields.
Up to 200 people were killed in the clampdown, rights activists said.