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BEIJING – Dozens of students were injured in a brawl involving military instructors at a high school in China. The violence flared as incoming upper-middle school students – the equivalent of American high school freshmen – participated in annual mandatory military training.
The circumstances behind how the brawl began at Huangcang Middle School in Hunan province remained unclear on Wednesday. But according to press statements from the Longshan County government, a military instructor named Mao may have been overly flirtatious with a female student, sparking good-natured ribbing from a group of male students and a teacher surnamed Liu. They boys were later told to apologize and ordered to do push-ups as punishment. Liu and Mao also shook hands, seemingly bringing an end to Sunday's incident.
But later that afternoon as the teens were standing at attention for a military-style review, the instructors reportedly began to get physically aggressive with the offending students. Their teacher, Liu, took offense and began to loudly criticize the instructors and called local police for help.
The argument soon devolved into blows and then an outright brawl as students joined in to protect their teacher. By the time the melee ended, 40 students, one instructor and a teacher were injured. Calls to the Longshan County government, Education Bureau and police by NBC News went unanswered.
Often led and organized by personnel from the People’s Liberation Army Reserve forces, military instruction is a tradition in Chinese schools. It is aimed at instilling pride and discipline while also giving students an understanding of what the PLA does.
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NBC News’ Chaojie Zhou and Xiwen Zhang contributed to this report.