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Police Search Mountains for Temple Murder Suspect
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Local police in northwest China's Shaanxi are searching the mountains in the south of the province for a man suspected of killing 10 people.

"We have found some places where the suspect hid and some belongings he abandoned, but he is still at large," Wang Rui, director of Shaanxi Provincial Public Security Department, told China Daily yesterday.

Immediately after the case was reported on July 16, Wang led an expert team from the department and entered the area around Qiu's village in Hanyin, a county in the Qinling Mountains.

The suspect, Qiu Xinghua, 47, a farmer living in Hanyin, is believed to have stabbed 10 people on the night of July 15 in a mountain temple near his village, local police said.

The next morning local farmers found the bodies of the victims, nine men and one woman, aged from 12 to 62, said a local policeman surnamed An at Houliuzhen Police Station, which covers Qiu's village.

Police later found that some of the victims were workers in the temple and some were villagers living nearby.

After investigation, police determined Qiu was the suspect and on July 26 Shaanxi Provincial Public Security Department and the Ministry of Public Security issued a class-A arrest warrant and offered a reward of 50,000 yuan (US$6,165).

On August 2, one of Qiu's fellow villagers saw him hiding in the forest near the village and reported it to local police.

However, local police said they could not catch Qiu on that day and so they began a large-scale hunt in the area. Now about 200 police officers are searching the mountainous area, Wang said.

"We can see the suspect knows the area very well, and with complicated terrain the search is hard," he added.

However, Qiu's family could not believe he was a killer.

"We visited the temple for worship and my husband quarrelled with the people there. But I do not believe that this was the reason for Qiu to go mad and kill those people," He Mo, Qiu's wife, was quoted as saying by local newspaper Chinese Business View.

"We also wonder why Qiu killed people who had no money or other valuable things with them. It will be clear when he is caught," the provincial police official said.

The search continues.

(China Daily August 8, 2006)

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