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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 07:34 GMT
Chinese police act over syringe scare
Syringe, slides and test tube full of blood
The syringes were full of red dye, said police
By the BBC's Adam Brookes in Beijing

Police in the Chinese capital Beijing say they have made several arrests following a spate of attacks on shoppers and commuters.

The attacks were allegedly carried out by young men wielding syringes.

A police spokesman told the BBC that the men appeared to be unemployed workers intent on spreading panic.

Medical staff at a large Beijing hospital confirmed they had treated a number of patients who said they had felt the stab of a syringe while out shopping or travelling on crowded public buses.

The patients were to be tested to see if they had contracted HIV, the virus which causes Aids.

Public prejudice

Police in eastern Beijing said the men had come to the capital from other provinces, looking for jobs. The men had carried syringes filled with red liquid which, said the police, turned out to be red dye.

Aids education poster in a Chinese hospital
China is becoming more aware of the risk of HIV/Aids
Two weeks ago, similar attacks were reported to have taken place in the eastern Chinese city of Tianjin. Alarm spread through the city, leaving streets and shopping malls eerily quiet as the authorities issued statements trying to quash rumours of angry Aids sufferers deliberately spreading the HIV virus.

The police say none of those arrested in connection with the attacks in Beijing have been found to be HIV positive.

The Chinese public is poorly informed about HIV and Aids and prejudice against those who carry the HIV virus is widespread.

What is not clear is the motivation of those who are now apparently seeking to spread panic in the Chinese capital by carrying out the syringe attacks.

See also:

28 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
China's Aids victims 'exceed one million'
16 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
China demands cheaper Aids drugs
11 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
China court orders Aids compensation
23 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
China comes clean on Aids
05 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Asia warned of Aids epidemic
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