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Mission to rescue kidnapped children
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An operation to rescue 10 babies from the clutches of kidnappers is being planned by police in Hubei province.

Officers investigating human trafficking on cross-provincial trains said they suspect the children are being held in Shexian county.

A rescue plan involving 30 police officers attached to the Wuhan Railway Administration is to be launched in the next few days, they said.

It is the biggest operation since the Ministry of Public Security launched a nation-wide crackdown on the abduction of women and children on April 9.

The railway probe began on June 11 after police rescued several babies on four separate occasions aboard the K111 train from Kunming in Yunnan province to Wuchang, Hubei, between May 31 and June 9, highlighting a major human trafficking route from Yunnan to Hebei province via Hubei.

Police told Wuhan Evening News four of the alleged smugglers were detained as they disembarked or tried to transfer to another train. Officers had been alerted by the suspects' odd behavior, as well as the fact they did not appear to have proper food or equipment for a baby.

"Abductors tend to choose the railway as means of cross-provincial transport because trains are crowed with people from various backgrounds, which is the best cover," said Li Biao, an officer from the public security bureau in Guiyang, Guizhou province.

"Railway police on the train have the advantage of being able to act quickly when they see something suspicious."

Wuhan rail officers have rescued 23 children, some as young as 15 days, and detained 18 suspects and 21 illegal adopters since May 31.

Three baby girls rescued on June 9 were to be sold in Handan, Hebei, a Wuhan railway official said. Blood samples have been taken from the children to help track their real parents using the new national DNA database.

In recent years, more than 100 infants have been snatched in Yunnan by gangs looking to sell them in the central and eastern provinces of Hunan, Hubei and Shandong.

A child can cost 7,000 yuan to 40,000 yuan ($1,000-6,000) depending on gender and age, Wuhan Evening News reported.

The Ministry of Public Security said about 3,000 cases of women and child abductions are investigated each year.

However, experts estimate the number of the kidnapped each year could be as high as 20,000.

(China Daily June 22, 2009)

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