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18 detained in child trafficking cases in Hubei
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Railway police in Wuhan City, in central China's Hubei Province, have since early April freed 25 kidnapped children sold, or destined to be sold, for profit, and detained 18 suspects.

The children's ages range from 40 days to five years, said Zhao Jun, Wuhan Railway Security Bureau publicity chief, Tuesday.

Wuhan police's rescue efforts were part of the nationwide campaign launched on April 9 by the Public Security Ministry to crack down upon child trafficking.

According to Zhao, most of the children were kidnapped from southwest China's Yunnan Province, and were transported by train via Hubei Province before being sold to rural areas in Hebei Province in the north.

In most cases, boys were preferred, but a change has taken place in recent years.

For example, Fan Yafang, a girl aged four, was the last child freed Monday from Xidou Village in Mujing Township of Shexian County, Hebei Province.

The girl was sold to Fan Hongbing for 8,300 yuan (about 1,220 U.S. dollars) four years ago.

Fan's mother, Guo Liting, said she encouraged her son and daughter-in-law to buy a girl, hoping that the girl could serve as a domestic helper at home when she grows up.

A medical examiner Monday also took blood samples from the preschooler for DNA tests.

All of the freed children are yet to be returned to their biological parents. Apart from five children who are at a children's welfare facility in Wuhan, the rest are at the railway police station in Shexian, a prime destination where many kidnapped children had been sold to. They will remain there until their real parents come to claim them.

(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2009)

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