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China police arrest 75 over Xinjiang syringe attacks: report

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 15, 2009
Chinese police have arrested 75 people suspected of involvement in syringe attacks that heightened tensions in the restive northwest region of Xinjiang, state media reported Tuesday.

The suspects were implicated in 36 attacks, including 16 in the regional capital Urumqi and the rest in other towns, Xinhua news agency quoted police official Huang Yabo as saying.

A Chinese court Saturday sentenced three people to up to 15 years in jail in the first trials since the attacks.

The authorities have claimed that Muslim separatists were behind the attacks but have not backed up the allegation.

Reports in the official media of Saturday's court proceedings did not make any reference to Muslim separatists.

The mysterious assaults provoked demonstrations earlier this month by Han Chinese, members of China's main ethnic group.

Demonstrators demanded that the government improve safety in Urumqi, which has been tense since riots by Muslim Uighurs in July left nearly 200 dead, mostly Han.

Local authorities have confirmed 531 syringe attack victims in Urumqi, mostly Han, 171 of whom showed obvious marks, Xinhua reported.

Examinations of 250 people allegedly jabbed by needles found no traces of any toxic substance, state media reported on Monday.

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