Stabbings bring cutting-edge security in Beijing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 September, 2009, 12:00am


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Kitchen knife too dull or the blade separated from the handle and you need a new one? Your paper cutter needs replacing?

In Beijing, you're out of luck for a couple of weeks.

Supermarkets and stores have been ordered to halt sales of kitchen knives and other sharp objects until after October 1, the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

The draconian measures came after two stabbings in three days in downtown Beijing that have overshadowed preparations for the massive National Day parade.

Several police officers were seen performing spot checks at a Wal-mart outlet at Wanda Plaza in the central business district, apparently to enforce the ban. In the store's kitchenware section, managers told the officers that kitchen knives and other sharp items such as paper cutters in the stationery section had been taken off shelves.

A Wal-mart saleswoman said the ban would be in place until the end of National Day celebrations. 'We've been told to halt the sale of knives as they might be used as weapons.'

A few hundred metres from the Wal-mart store, an employee at Bonjour, a French-based supermarket chain, said they had received notice of the ban on Friday, and another worker said paper cutters longer than 7cm were no longer on display. But another saleswoman was seen taking a box of paper cutters from a shelf and selling one with a 9cm blade.

As the anniversary approaches, Beijing has seen the most elaborate security exercise since the Beijing Olympics last year.

Uniformed security personnel are guarding key spots such as flyovers, and commuters are required to go through stringent security checks before being allowed to board subway trains and inter-city buses.

City authorities also want no unaccounted for flying objects, as they have also banned kites and homing pigeons - a common sight in the skies above Beijing parks - between September 15 and October 8.

Three knife-wielding men killed at least two people and injured 14 in Dashilan, a Beijing downtown neighbourhood frequented by tourists, on Thursday night. On Saturday a Frenchwoman was attacked by a man in his early 40s who was believed to be disillusioned and jobless. The victim suffered only minor injuries.