Xinjiang needle jab attacks not toxic: Report
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Last Updated: Monday, September 14, 2009, 11:54
  
Beijing: Authorities in western China's restive Xinjiang region have found nothing toxic in blood samples taken from victims of a wave of needle attacks, state press said on Monday.

No radioactive, poisonous or viral substances were detected in tests on 250 people who were allegedly jabbed by needles in the regional capital of Urumqi, Xinhua news agency said, quoting disease control experts.

The announcement comes after a Chinese court on Saturday sentenced three people to up to 15 years in jail over the attacks, which China's state-controlled media has said involved syringes.

The government has blamed the attacks on Muslim separatists, but has provided no evidence.

State press reports on the convictions on Saturday made no reference to separatism.

Xinjiang's mostly Muslim ethnic Uighur minority have long complained of Chinese religious and political oppression.

The mysterious assaults provoked demonstrations earlier this month by Han Chinese demanding the government improve safety in Urumqi, which has been tense since riots by Muslim Uighurs in July left nearly 200 dead, mostly Han.

"Some patients showed various levels of anxiety and depression and have been recommended for psychological counselling," the Xinhua report quoted Qian Jun, a disease control and biological security expert with China's military, as saying.

As of September 4, local authorities had confirmed 531 jabbing victims in Urumqi, 171 of whom showed obvious marks, Xinhua said. The majority were Han.

"The needle stabbings did not cause serious damage to the victims' health, but they caused public panic," Xinhua cited Wang Wenxian, an Urumqi police official, as saying.

In the Saturday convictions, a court in Urumqi found Yilipan Yilihamu, a 19-year-old student, guilty of an "attack with a dangerous substance," and sentenced him to 15 years in jail for an August 28 stabbing, earlier reports said.

In a second syringe case, reported heroin users Muhutaerjiang Turdi, a 34-year-old man, and Aimannisha Guli, a woman of 22, were sentenced to 10 and seven years respectively after attacking and robbing a taxi driver, the reports said.

China blamed the July riots on "separatists”, but Uighurs say they were sparked when security forces reacted harshly to peaceful protests over an earlier factory brawl in southern China that state media said left two Uighurs dead.

Bureau Report


First Published: Monday, September 14, 2009, 11:54


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