CHINA / National

Skulls hacked from bodies after death
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-06 06:04

Police yesterday confirmed that 121 skulls found in the the western part of Northwest China's Gansu Province were human and had been hacked from their bodies after death.

The skulls, wrapped in a plastic bag, were found on March 26 by a herdsman in a ravine in an outlying mountain area of the Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous County, a source with the Ministry of Public Security said.

A Chinese policeman checks skulls in Tianzhu County, western China's Gansu province in this March 29, 2006 file photo. [newsphoto]

A photo published on the web portal showed rows of skulls with the tops cut off, some of which still had skin and hair on them.

Local police first suspected that the skulls were those of monkeys after a preliminary analysis of fur and hair.

But forensic experts from Lanzhou University, in the provincial capital, said the skulls were human after they examined 13 samples.

On April 2, the Ministry of Public Security sent a team of forensic scientists, DNA specialists, and anthropologists to Gansu to investigate the skulls.

The skulls were from people of all ages, men and women, old and young, said Professor Chen Shixian, a forensic expert. But he dismissed rumours that the skulls were dumped by hospitals after doctors had removed the brains for medical purposes.

Investigations showed no signs of medical expertise in the decapitations, Chen said, adding that they found no signs of fatal injuries.

He declined to comment any further on the investigation.

Police said they were still probing the origin of the skulls and where and how the decapitations took place.

(China Daily 04/06/2006 page2)