Syringe attacks continue in Urumqi despite death penalty warning

     Despite a death penalty warning, 77 cases of needle attack were reported between Sunday and Monday evenings in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, police say. So far, police have caught 45 suspects during the syringe scare, of whom 12 remain in police custody. The procuratorate has approved the arrests of four. Eight people have been sent to drug rehab, according to Urumqi police authorities. Despite signs of recovery in the city after assaults caused fear among residents and triggered mass protests, the Urumqi municipal government implemented traffic control Monday night on the city''s main streets. Shops and businesses in the city center were ordered to close early. The control lasted from 9 pm Monday to 9 am Tuesday. The Public Security Department of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region reiterated syringe attackers must be given punishment in order to protect residents and maintain social order. The pledge followed a joint notice on Sunday of the court, the prosecutor''s office and the police bureau of Urumqi, which said an attacker may face a life sentence or even the death penalty. The department emphasized that those who stab others, no matter what means they use, are considered to have committed crimes and must be punished according to law. Those who pretend to suffer syringe attacks and cause fear among the public will also face punishment, according to the public notice.

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