CHINA> Regional
Syringe attacks persist in Urumqi
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-09-09 07:08

URUMQI: Police said they received 77 reports of syringe attacks between 5 pm Sunday and 5 pm Monday in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, despite authorities warning attackers they might face the death penalty.

So far, police have caught 45 suspects during the syringe scare, of whom 12 remain in police custody. The procuratorate has approved the arrests of four. Eight people have been sent to drug rehab, according to Urumqi police authorities.

Despite signs of recovery in the city after assaults caused fear among residents and triggered mass protests, the Urumqi municipal government implemented traffic control Monday night on the city's main streets. Shops and businesses in the city center were ordered to close early. The control lasted from 9 pm Monday to 9 am Tuesday.

The Public Security Department of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region reiterated syringe attackers must be given punishment in order to protect residents and maintain social order, according to a public notice released late Monday.

The pledge followed a joint notice on Sunday of the court, the prosecutor's office and the police bureau of Urumqi, which said an attacker may face a life sentence or even the death penalty.

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The department emphasized that those who stab others, no matter what means they use, are considered to have committed crimes and must be punished according to law.

Those who pretend to suffer syringe attacks and cause fear among the public will also face punishment, according to the public notice.

As well, citizens are allowed to take to the police any suspects who commit syringe attacks or flee from the scene, the notice said. But it prohibited beating suspects.

Dangerous building

The building built and named by Rebiya Kadeer in Urumqi will be demolished as it has serious security risks, local authorities said Monday.

The building has cracks in the wall and the ground has sunk, said an official with the municipal government.

Kadeer, the leader of the separatist World Uyghur Congress, was accused of being the mastermind behind the July 5 riot, which left 197 dead and more than 1,700 injured.

The time of the demolition hasn't been revealed but a notice was sent to vendors in the building on July 22 by the Akada Industry and Trade Company, founded by Kadeer.

The building is also considered a fire risk by the fire department as its wires are old and the fire exits are used as stores by vendors, said the official.

Although the municipal government spent a large amount of money to repair the electrical system in 2006, it is still not safe, the official said.

The building, with more than 500 stores in the four floors and covering 1,720 square meters, was built when Kadeer ran a business in the Erdaoqiao area and belongs to the Akada Industry and Trade Company.

Other aging buildings, including the Akada company building and the Tuanjie Theater, are also listed to be demolished.

China Daily-Xinhua