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September 16, 2009

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75 held in Urumqi needle scare

SEVENTY-FIVE suspects allegedly involved in recent syringe attacks in Urumqi had been detained as of yesterday, said a police officer in the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The suspects were linked to 36 syringe attacks: 16 in Urumqi, 13 in Hotan, two in Turpan, two in Kashgar and one each in the Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Aksu and Altay, according to Huang Yabo, a senior officer with the regional public security department.

Huang said scattered attacks were still being reported. "The police will intensify the fight against the criminals," he said.

Zhang Jun, deputy head of the Urumqi Public Security Bureau, said that in one case, two Uygur youngsters had been detained for stabbing a resident named Zhang Yun in the arm last Saturday in a supermarket.

"The two suspects, who are now under detention, have confessed they attacked Zhang with unused syringes to create panic in society," Zhang said.

In another case, Tursunjiang Turdi and seven others were seized for organized attacks on Urumqi residents with needles, pins and toothpicks.

"They have confessed their aim was to undermine ethnic unity in Xinjiang and to create ethnic hatred," Zhang said.

Three Uygurs were given sentences ranging from seven to 15 years in jail last Saturday for syringe stabbings or threatening to use syringes during a robbery.

Hundreds of people have been stabbed by hypodermic syringes or needles in Urumqi during the past three weeks.

Tens of thousands of residents took to the streets earlier this month, demanding security guarantees. Five people died and at least 14 were hospitalized for injuries suffered during the protests.

The city's public security authorities announced earlier this month that police had caught 45 syringe-scare suspects.

Tests of victims' bodily samples found no dangerous viruses or chemicals, medical experts said last week.


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