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Woman Blinded in Market Shooting

One of the victims of a shooting at a Beijing market on Sunday is facing an uncertain future as her family struggle to pay for vital medical treatment.

The 26-year-old woman, surnamed Huang, was one of seven victims of the shooting, at a roadside market in Shier Village of Daxing District's Xihongmen Township, the Beijing News daily reported yesterday

She was hit several times, including once in the eye.

Huang and her family have already paid more than 3,000 yuan (US$370) for treatment at Beijing Tongren Hospital, but cannot afford the three more operations doctors say she needs.

An operation to remove the damaged eye alone will cost more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,240).

The six others injured in the incident have already left hospital.

Police believe the shooting was the result of a dispute over payment at a roadside market, the daily reported.

Three men wanted in connection with the shooting are still at large, police said.

A market manager, surnamed Lu, said he saw the three men, thought to come from Northeast China, at around 4:40 PM when they approached vendors and demanded management fees.

When he approached to intervene, one of the men stabbed him with a knife. The three men then fled to an alley from where they opened fire, injuring seven vendors and passers-by.

Lu said he knew two of the three, who were armed with a rifle and a knife.

According to Lu, the two were introduced to him by Shang, head of the village's Market Management Department.

Lu said his superior, Shang, summoned market management staff to a meeting in October, announcing that fees would be collected by the two newcomers.

After consulting village heads , Lu said he established that people from outside the village had no right to collect fees, so he continued to collect the fees himself.

Two of the suspects in the shooting once took away the fees he collected, he added.

Yuan Xiangbin, one village head, said Shang was injured last March by a market vendor and paralyzed in one hand. According to another villager, Shang once fell out with Lu, after Lu set up a rival market.

The market where the shooting happened was set up in 2003 and is the busiest of four markets in the village. Management fees are between 3 yuan (US$37cents) and 5 yuan (US$60 cents) a day for each stall.

(China Daily November 23, 2005)

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