CHINA / Regional

Mysterious skulls robbed from graves: Police
Updated: 2006-04-13 09:21

About 121 skulls found in northwest China's Gansu Province were confirmed as robberies from unknown graves by illegal profit hunters to make artifacts, according to the provincial public security department.

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

A joint investigation showed a farmer, surnamed Qiao from Huzhu County of the northwestern province of Qinghai, stole the skulls from unmarked tombs and then sold them to Liang and Liu, natives of Yongjing County of Gansu Province who used them to make handicrafts.

Liang discarded the leftover skulls in a ravine in an outlying mountain area of Tianzhu Tibetan autonomous county before this year's Chinese Spring Festival.

The skulls, wrapped in a plastic bag, were found on March 26 bya herdsman, sources with the Ministry of Public Security said.

Local police initially suspected that the skulls belonged to monkeys.

On April 2, the Ministry of Public Security sent a team of forensic scientists, DNA specialists and anthropologists to Gansu Province for investigation and examination.

The ministry said on April 5 that the skulls were human and had been hacked from their bodies after death.