BEIJING (AP) _ Three dissidents meeting in a public square in southern China were taken away by plainclothes security agents and their whereabouts remain unknown, a human rights group said Saturday.

Li Jinhong, Liu Shili and Chen Guojin were meeting with two other democracy campaigners in front of the railroad station in Chenzhou city, Hunan province, when 10 to 20 people dragged them away Friday afternoon, the New York-based Human Rights in China reported.

Their colleagues have been unable to determine where the three were taken, and police have not notified their families, the group said, citing a letter it received by fax from a Hunan democracy group.

``The Chinese police already so wantonly seize people. In broad daylight, without reason or warrant, at their pleasure, they arrest and jail dissidents just like hunting animals in the forest,'' said the letter, a copy of which was released by Human Rights in China.

The communist government has intensified harassment of the relentlessly persecuted dissident community to ensure the trouble-free passing of two sensitive anniversaries: the crushing of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement on June 4, 1989, and 50 years of communist rule on Oct. 1.

Li Jinhong, an accountant in a Hunan bank, took part in the 1989 movement and spent four years in prison. He has been in and out of trouble with police ever since, Human Rights in China said.

Peng Ming ran a weekly debating forum that claimed to have 11,000 members nationwide. He was arrested in January at a suburban Beijing nightclub and charged with soliciting a prostitute _ a charge he claims was trumped up. Police have the authority to send criminal suspects to labor or detention camps for up to three years without trial.