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Man arrested for enslaving kiln workers

A MAN who allegedly bought and forced 32 mentally challenged workers to work as slaves in brick kilns in Anhui Province has been, the Economic Information Daily reported today.

Police in Anhui's Jieshou City told the newspaper that the man, identified as Zhang Xueqian, started to lure and buy mentally challenged people in Rongcheng City, Shandong Province, starting in 2006. He then rented them as slave laborers in Shandong kilns.

Early this year, the Shandong kilns went bankrupt and Zhang took 32 of the workers to Jieshou, where he forced them to work in two brick kilns.

These men were rescued on April 28 in a raid by more than 80 police, acting on tips. Some had been working for four days, some as long as a month, police said.

The total number of men enslaved since 2006 was not known.

The rescued workers, aged from 25 to 45, had been forced to work a dozen hours a day and were often beaten, according to earlier media reports.

In addition to Zhang, police caught nine other men, including kiln owners and foremen.

Only some of the victims were able to tell police where they were from. Police returned 29 of them to their homes, while three were awaiting their families at a shelter.


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