Public info points police to Urumqi riot suspects

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Three plain-clothes officers drove to a grand bazaar in the Heijiashan area on Aug 15 supplied with a public tip-off that an alleged July 5 rioter was in the vicinity.

The Heijiashan district, as well as Shaqu, of Urumqi were heavily targeted areas during the riot, which left 197 dead and over 1,700 injured in the capital of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

According to police accounts, the three officers, surnamed Yang, Yi and Pa, spotted the rioter in the crowd. "She wasn't wearing the same clothes during the [riot]," Officer Yang said. "She was wearing black and we could tell that she was looking around. She was highly alert."

The Uygur woman is suspected of repeatedly beating a person driving a car during the riot with a baton and was allegedly caught by public surveillance cameras in the brutal act.

"We were slowly closing in on her," Yang said. "But she noticed us and started walking faster. We sped up, but I noticed that many passers-by were looking at us. To prevent any unrest, we arrested her quickly and got out of there. We then raided her house and discovered the same headscarf and shoes she had worn during the (riot). She then confessed to her crime."

The alleged rioter, according to police, admitted that she had struck the man nine times with the baton.

Stories of public tip-offs leading to arrests of alleged July 5 suspects has been cropping up more and more. Many of the riot suspects, police said, have fled the capital in an attempt to escape punishment.

In the two months since the riot, the public has been asked to expose criminals allegedly connected with the riot with fliers and notices distributed by the public security bureaus of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Urumqi.

On Aug 5, a tip-off led to the detainment of a 22-year-old in the Sha district.

A police officer at the Hong Miaozi police bureau in the district said the suspect confessed to participating in the smashing of a bus on July 5.

On Aug 24, another tip-off helped Urumqi police uncover two suspects hiding in Hutubi.

With the help from HutubI police, Urumqi authorities police with four SWAT members drove two days later to Hutubi county and arrested the alleged suspects.

Both confessed to crimes committed during the July 5 riot, police said.

Some July 5 riot suspects have also turned themselves in, according to police. Some have also been turned in by family members.

"I came here to turn myself in, because I deeply regret what I had done," a 36-year old Uygur suspect told police recently.

After several assaults and vandalism of passing cars, he left his home and disappeared the next day, leaving his wife and children unattended, police said.

Ever since his disappearance, police have been visiting his family every day, hoping that his wife would convince her husband to turn himself in.

By Sept 2, 825 suspects have been detained and local police has requested the procuratorate to approve the arrest of 239 suspects thought to have been involved in the riot. Among the 239, 196 were granted.

(China Daily September 15, 2009)

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