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HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam land protesters in the capital Hanoi have released about half the 30 officials, including police officers, they took hostage on Saturday when a land dispute escalated, a lawyer involved in negotiations said on late Monday.

The residents of My Duc, on the outskirts of Hanoi, accused the local authority of taking over land for a telecommunications project without paying appropriate compensation.

The local government said the people did not own the land and were breaking the law by protesting. Four of the residents were arrested, including 83-year-old local leader Kinh.

The residents of My Duc took police and other officials hostage to demand the release of those arrested. Residents' lawyer Tran Vu Hai said all local people had now been released and that half those held by residents had been freed.

Land disputes are common in Vietnam and the one in My Duc has lasted for years, but it is rare for residents to take officials hostage in the communist state where there is little tolerance of dissent.

(Reporting by My Pham; Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Michael Perry)

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