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Details Released on Illegal Firearms Crackdown
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Chinese police have seized thousands of guns and tons of explosives in three provinces in a nationwide crackdown on illegal firearms launched in early June.

In a news release provided to Xinhua on Tuesday, the Ministry of Public Security provided details of its crackdown in three provinces of Sichuan, Liaoning and Jilin over the past two months.

In the southwestern province of Sichuan, police confiscated about 5,500 guns, including pistols, hunting rifles, and home-made and military weapons, the police said.

Police in Sichuan also rounded up 203 grenades, 23,500 rounds of ammunition, and 25 tons of explosives during the crackdown, according to the ministry.

The illegal trade of dynamite used in coal mining has been a top concern of authorities following a number of deadly explosions in residential areas.

In Liaoning, the northeastern province, police raids in the past two months netted 336 guns, 10,884 bullets, and 1.91 tons of explosives.

The police melted the firearms in 13 furnaces, according to the ministry.

Last month, the police bureau of Beijing announced that the city's police had collected 521 private guns and 879 mock guns from individuals, according to reports of the Beijing News.

Mock guns, including joy guns designed for children, are banned for storing or trade, Qian Jin, an official with the Beijing police bureau was quoted as saying, adding that the owners will be criminalized if mock guns are used to hurt other people.

Private ownership of two air guns or one powder-initiated gun will lead to penalties such as warning and detention of gun owners, the police official said.

More than 1,000 people involved in 244 separate cases were charged with firearms crimes in the provinces of Jilin and Sichuan. According to Chinese laws, people will be charged on illegally producing, transporting, storing and trading firearms.

At an earlier news conference held by the police authority, Wu Heping, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Security, admitted that the overall security situation concerning explosives and guns is "not optimistic."

Explosives which were illegally produced, stored and sold caused 101 deaths and 181 injuries in China in 2005 in 22 separate cases, according to police data.

Nine similar cases have taken place since the beginning of this year in the country, leaving 60 dead and 36 injured.

The police said they would set up a national information system on the management of explosives by the end of this year.

(Xinhua News Agency August 2, 2006)

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