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Kidnapped children returned to homes

POLICE said 20 children who had been abducted and forced into pickpocket gangs in southern China for up to four years have returned home to northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region yesterday.

The children were freed after police broke up the child-abduction gang last month.

Police in the coastal province of Guangdong escorted 17 boys and three girls, aged eight to 16, to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, by train.

The children, wearing new clothes and carrying bags of food, appeared healthy and relaxed at the Urumqi Railway Station. Some parents came to the station, but many children will stay in a local care facility until police locate their families.

Guangdong police broke up a 22-member gang on May 14 in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, said Yaksengyang Ibrayim, commissar of a police detachment of the public security bureau of Guangzhou.

The kidnappers, who have been detained by police, confessed that they promised jobs to the children in impoverished regions in Xinjiang and took them to Guangzhou.

Instead, they trained the children how to steal and forced them to steal at least 2,000 yuan (US$290) a day. Those who couldn't faced abuse, such as cigarette burns or whippings.

Police have set up ID files for each child, said Ibrayim.

Chinese police launched a nationwide campaign against the trafficking of children and women in early April, which will run through this year.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, police rescued 196 children and 214 women and broke up 72 human trafficking rings from April 9 to May 4.

Most of these crimes occurred in Guizhou, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Shandong, Henan and Shanxi provinces.



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