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More suspects prosecuted while Urumqi syringe attacks described as "violent, terrorist" crimes

2009-09-09

    Recent syringe attacks that triggered public scare in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi were no simple violations but "violent, terrorist" crimes, said a police officer and a law expert Tuesday.

    The syringe attacks were neither some individuals' practical jokes, nor simple criminal activities, but organized and planned major adverse events, which had disturbed social order and created an atmosphere of fear in the city, said Du Xintao, a legal affairs official with the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Public Security Department.

    The attacks were aimed at individuals on the surface and at unsettling groups in society, so that they were not ordinary crimes but crimes against society and endangered public and state security, Du told a press conference.

    "They (the attacks) were copies of violent, terrorist crimes," said Yan Yuxing, a law expert and former president of the Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang.

    Yan said the attacks were aimed to unsettle the city's atmosphere and stressed that an attacker might face death penalty if the consequence was grave.

Local authorities said Tuesday another four suspects involved in syringe attacks were prosecuted Monday for spreading false dangerous substances.

    With the help of three accomplices, Abdurusul Abdukdale stabbeda woman surnamed Li in the neck with a syringe at about 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 3 in an underground passage in Urumqi, said the People's Procuratorate of the city.

    The four suspects were caught at the scene. The Urumqi procuratorate approved the arrest of the four Monday.

    Previously, another four suspects were prosecuted for endangering public security.

    Hundreds of people have been stabbed by hypodermic syringes or needles in Urumqi, triggering public scare. Tens of thousands of residents took to the streets last week to demand security guarantees. Five people died and at least 14 were hospitalized for injuries during the protests.

    Police have caught 45 suspects amid the syringe scare, of whom 12 are in police custody. Eight people have been sent for forced isolation of drugs, according to Urumqi police authorities.

    The regional and municipal governments are tackling the crisis. The governments have posted guards in public areas like buses, schools and hospitals. The health department is treating victims. No death nor any case which needs anti-virus drugs has been reported, said an official with the regional center of disease control and prevention.

Police on Tuesday lifted traffic controls on most roads in Urumqi. Passengers increased on the streets and there were sporadic congestions at different crossings. Public security staff were seen on some buses.

    Police vehicles patrolled on major streets, broadcasting the notice that those committing syringe attacks must be punished according to law.

    Financial establishments such as outlets of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, and the Urumqi Commercial Bank were all open for business.

    The city's commerce bureau has issued special permits to vehicles transporting food, oil, vegetables and meat to ensure supplies in the markets.

    "The sales in the morning market on the Hongshan Road near my home has returned to normal. There is no hike in prices of the vegetables and meat," said a resident surnamed Yang.

    The regional government, however, issued an order Tuesday, requiring buyers of dangerous chemical products in Xinjiang to register identification.

    But the government said the measure was aimed at maintaining safety in the workplace.

    Companies or individuals must provide business licenses or ID cards when purchasing any kind of chemical products, according to the order.

A top media official of the region expressed Tuesday regrets over an alleged beating of three Hong Kong journalists in the regional capital of Urumqi last week, but noted that they had violated local regulations.

    "We are regretful over the incident," said Hou Hanmin, director of the Xinjiang Autonomous Regional Information Office, during a meeting with a group of Hong Kong journalists who came to Urumqi to cover the aftermath of the riot on July 5.

    "Of the three journalists, only one had a temporary press card that allowed him to conduct interviews in the city, but the other two didn't have. They violated our regulations," she said.

    After the July 5 riot in which 197 people were left dead and more than 1,600 others injured, local authorities stipulated that journalists who came to cover the incident should first obtain temporary press cards issued by the regional information office.

    Citing an investigation about the alleged beating of the three journalists on Sept. 4, Hou said security personnel found some people were following and filming a group of protestors on a road in the city that afternoon, and suspected them of instigating the demonstrators when witnessing that they made profuse gestures before the demonstrators.

    Hou also stressed local authorities would maintain the media openness policy that has been employed after the July 5 riot and security personnel would also provide protection for journalists who conduct interviews while complying with local regulations.

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