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The BBC's Duncan Hewitt
"The former factory worker was seeking revenge"
 real 28k

Sunday, 29 April, 2001, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Three executed over China blasts
Jin
Jin's testimony confessing to the crime was televised
Three men convicted of involvement in a series of bomb attacks that killed 108 people in northern China last month have been executed, the official Xinhua news agency says.

Former cotton mill worker Jin Ruchao, who was found guilty of causing the blasts, was killed by firing squad in the capital of Hebei province soon after an order for his execution had been issued by a provincial court.

Apartment block
The blasts caused complete devastation
Wang Yushun and Hao Fengqin, who were found guilty of making explosives and supplying Jin with ammonia nitrate, were executed with him.

The sentences were carried out amid a huge anti- crime campaign in which at least 400 people have been put to death in the last month, raising criticism from human rights groups.

Explosives ban

The explosions at five residential buildings in the industrial city of Shijiazhuang - which occurred within an hour of each other on 16 March - led the Chinese authorities to announce a ban on the sale of explosives, which are widely available.

An execution order on a fourth man, Hu Xiaophong, convicted of supplying Jin with detonators and fuses, was suspended for two years.

"Based on his crime, Hu should be put to death but, upon consideration of the particular details of this crime, it is not necessary to execute him immediately, " a court statement said.

Chinese paramilitary police patrol the streets of Shijiazhuang
Security was stepped up after the attacks
Official reports say 40-year-old Jin acted alone, driven by a desire for revenge against relatives - including his stepmother and ex-wife - who lived in the buildings.

But questions have been raised as to whether one man could have single-handedly carried out one of the bloodiest crimes in China's reform era.

Taxis

According to one report in Xinhua based on information from police, Jin rushed between his targets using taxis to detonate each explosion personally.

Jin
Jin is said to have used taxis to reach his targets
The report said he detonated the first blast at about 0400 local time on 16 March, dashed out and hailed a taxi to the next target, where the explosion went off at 0430 local time. He then hired taxis again to the third and fourth targets.

After the blasts, Jin headed 2,000km (1,250 miles) south to the beach resort of Beihai, where he was arrested after one of the biggest police manhunts for years.

One Chinese newspaper took the highly unusual step of criticising other state media for depicting Jin as guilty before the trial began.

Jin was also accused of murdering his girlfriend in southern China a week earlier.

The blasts focused attention on the plight of old heavy industrial cities like Shijiazhuang.

There was speculation that disgruntled factory workers could have been behind the blasts, which went off at flats mainly housing cotton mill workers.

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See also:

17 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
China blast trial opens
27 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China arrests 'explosives supplier'
25 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
'Revenge' motive for China blasts
17 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China says 108 killed in blasts
15 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese leader sorry over school blast
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