Five More Arrested for Shijiazhuang Explosions

China News Digest, 1 April 2001

[CND, 04/01/01] Five new suspects have been arrested in Shijiazhuang city, Hebei province, on suspicion that they are linked to a deadly blast that killed 108 on March 12, reported the Hong Kong iMail on Saturday, citing state media.

They were arrested during a crackdown on producers of illegal explosives in Luquan city, reported the Hebei Daily. According to public security authorities, four among 38 detainees allegedly supplied JIN Ruchao, the main suspect, with explosives and fuses. Another person is charged with concealing Jin's link to the crimes.

The arrested are: GAO Shuanhu, HAO Fengqin, HOU Huaiying, HU Xiaohong, and WANG Yushun. Authorities claim that Hao, Hu, and Wang illegally manufactured over ten tons of explosives. The accused allegedly sold an unknown quantity to Jin on March 14. The price was reportedly 980 yuan (HK$921.)

The report did not go into detail about Gao's involvement, other than saying that he allegedly kept Jin's part in the crime a secret. The report added that a databank has been established tracing the logistics of all explosives, detonators and fuses, keeping files on their source, stock, quantities, usage, and application.

Local residents doubt the veracity of the government's charges against Jin, who allegedly is solely responsible for five explosions at fours sites scattered throughout Shijiazhuang city. Those speaking on Jin's behalf find it unlikely that he triggered four blasts in an hour within a radius of over 10 kilometers.

Critics of the official one-man theory postulate that disgruntled laid-off workers could have also played a role in the deadly bombings.

Jin was arrested on March 23 in Guangxi province following a nationwide manhunt. Authorities offered a reward of 150,000 yuan for information leading to his capture. (Sue Bruell)