Child kidnapping ring smashed

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 January, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 January, 2004, 12:00am

Police in Guizhou, in southwest China, have broken up a kidnapping ring which they say snatched children from their homes then sold them to other families.

Forty-five gang members have been arrested and accused of abducting 25 children, most between July and October last year. Most of the children were taken from the provincial capital, Guiyang, and the city of Anshun. They were allegedly sold to people in Hebei and Henan.

Most of the children believed to have been kidnapped have been recovered.

Of those found, eight were returned to their families after DNA testing, while 17 remained unidentified, according to a Guizhou police spokesman.

The gang, allegedly led by Hu Qijia, Tong Laifen, Wu Hualin and Li Peifang, began kidnapping children last March, police said.

An officer from the provincial Public Security Bureau said the children were often seized from their homes by the armed kidnappers, or abducted from the street or in downtown areas.

There is no apparent link between the gang and the kidnapping of Hong Kong boy Ng Ko-wan, aged four, who was reunited with his family on Friday after being abducted from Shenzhen eight months ago and sold to a mainland woman for 15,600 yuan.

The arrests in Guizhou came after the abductions attracted attention from the central government. It took three months of investigations to break the case. Police from Beijing and several other provinces were involved. Investigators are still searching for other suspects and missing children, Xinhua reported.

People-trafficking is a serious problem in China, especially in rural areas, where women and children are often easy targets.

In Yunnan province alone, police have broken up four child kidnapping rings since October, arresting 47 people and rescuing 63, Xinhua reported.