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Crowds demand security in Urumqi after syringe attacks

CROWDS gathered at a number of sites in Urumqi this morning demanding security guarantees from authorities following hypodermic syringe attacks in the capital city of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

At 10:50am today, more than 1,000 people started to gather at the residential quarter of Xiaoximen, said a police officer who requested anonymity.

Chenggong Plaza and Baiqing Market, two major marketplaces near Xiaoximen, were not open for business as late as 10:30am. Instead, many traders gathered at entrances to the marketplaces. Business owners whose shops lined the street said they feared there would not be much business during the day.

People also turned out in big crowds at the Renmin Cinema and Beiyuanchun farmers' produce wholesale market.

The police officer said people took to the streets around the market after a man stabbed a five-year-old girl this morning, the latest in a string of attacks.

Members of the Uygur ethnic minority were also among the protesting crowds.

The attacks came less than two months since July 5 when 197 people were killed, and 1,600 others injured in a riot in Urumqi.

Members of nine ethnic groups including the Han, Uygur, Hui, Kazak and Mongolian had reported stabbing incidents to the police in recent days, said Zhu Hailun, head of the political and legal affairs commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) committee in Xinjiang

Local police had seized 15 suspects for attacking people with hypodermic needles in Urumqi after receiving reports of the attacks, said Zhu.

Of the 15, four had been officially arrested and prosecuted and their judgments would be handed down shortly, Zhu said.


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