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January 19, 2010

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Nation pays respects to 8 fallen peacekeepers

HUNDREDS of thousands of Chinese people, including Premier Wen Jiabao, offered tributes yesterday to the eight peacekeeping police officers who were killed in the Haiti earthquake and whose bodies were on the way back to China.

The premier expressed his condolences in his call to the Ministry of Public Security yesterday morning, according to a notice posted on the ministry's official Website. "They gave their lives for world peace. They are outstanding sons and daughters of the motherland," Wen said.

Wen also urged the ministry, which administers the country's peacekeeping police officers, to take good care of the victims' families.

The bodies of the eight peacekeeping police officers are expected to be brought home this morning Beijing time on a chartered flight.

They were meeting officials at the UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince when the quake struck last Tuesday.

Many officials went to offer condolences at a mourning hall opened by the ministry. The ministry turned its Website black yesterday and opened online mourning sites, where numerous Internet users presented virtual bouquets.

Major Chinese Website portals opened mourning pages about the victims. More than 666,800 people have presented virtual bouquets at the popular portal Most postings are respectful, with messages such as "Rest in peace."

A posting from "agou0724" on said: "The peacekeeping officers are ordinary and innocent people who risk their own safety to guard that of others."

Police across the country were mourning their colleagues.

More than 13,000 border police officers in southwest China's Yunnan Province paid their respect to their three colleagues, Li Qin, 47, Zhong Jianqin, 35, and He Zhihong, 35, who died in the earthquake.

Ceremonies were held at 9am across stations of the Yunnan provincial command of border police. Officers stood in silent tribute and bowed solemnly to the pictures of the three victims, who were dispatched by the command to join China's anti-riot team in Haiti.

Yin Jiayong, whose sister is also a peacekeeping officer, donated 2,000 yuan (US$293) to each family of the three victims on behalf of his parents living in a remote area of Yunnan. The old couple sold their only four pigs for the donation.


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