Fri, Jan 23, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Chinese police track down two alleged kidnappers

AFP , BEIJING

Police in north China have detained two people allegedly linked to the Myanmar-based kidnapping of at least 50 teenagers whose parents were sent ransom demands, state media reported yesterday.

Police in Yuncheng, Shanxi Province, where some of the boys came from, said nine people were suspected of being involved in what was believed to be a cross-border gang, the official Xinhua news agency said.

They said that of the 19 youngsters known to have disappeared from Yuncheng, 17 had already returned home and they were searching for the remaining two, Xinhua reported.

No details were given on the circumstances under which the 17 had been able to return, with Xinhua saying it was unclear whether ransoms had been paid.

The boys were threatened with torture if their parents failed to meet the kidnappers’ ransom demands, official media reports said.

News of the kidnappings emerged in September last year when a 16-year-old boy who had gone to work in Yunnan Province — which neighbors Myanmar — phoned home saying he had been arrested for drug dealing.

The boy told his parents he would be executed if they did not pay a fine of 80,000 yuan (US$11,700), media reports said.

Other parents whose children had disappeared started receiving similar phone calls and last month the father of another victim wired the money to the kidnappers’ account and his son, Zhang Bo, was released.

Police in Shanxi said at least 50 teenage boys had been kidnapped.

Zhang said his ordeal began when he met a man who said he did business with militants in Myanmar and could give him 10 days’ work for 6,000 yuan — a large sum of money for such a short period.

The two crossed the border from Yunnan into Myitkyina in Myanmar on Oct. 16, but the teenager was immediately shoved into a cell where several other young boys were already being held.

The middle-man was called Zhang Yingzhou, previous media reports said.

One of the suspects detained by police was a Shanxi native surnamed Zhang, Beijing News said, although it was unclear if it was the same person.

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