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China arrests alleged mass killer


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BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- Chinese police have arrested a man accused of knifing 65 people to death in one of the most horrifying cases of serial slayings in China's recent history.

Ex-convict Yang Zhiya was grabbed earlier this month in the northern city of Cangzhou after police inspecting an entertainment venue recognized him from a national most-wanted list, the Guangzhou Daily said on Saturday.

Yang, who had spent time in prison and a labor camp for rape and robbery, set off on his killing spree after his girlfriend left him over his criminal past, the newspaper said.

"Yang Zhiwei harbored feelings of revenge against society ... and moreover his methods were extremely cruel; he didn't leave survivors, and more than a few families were exterminated by his hand," it said.

Despite the astonishing death toll and the grisly nature of the crimes, Yang's case has not been widely reported in tightly controlled state media since his capture on November 3.

China has viewed itself as largely free of the kind of mass violence it sees reported in countries such as the United States.

The four-paragraph report in a city newspaper contrasted with the media's intensive coverage of serial killers in the West, such as Gary Ridgway, the "Green River Killer" who pleaded guilty this month to murdering 48 prostitutes and runaways in the Seattle area.

While official violent crime figures are unavailable, China is no stranger to mass killings.

But rather than office shootings or serial slayings, it is troubled by revenge poisonings, arsons and even bombings.

Last year, a man killed at least 42 people, many of them children, by slipping rat poison into food at a rival's shop in the eastern city of Nanjing.

The Public Security Ministry had congratulated the Cangzhou police department for finally nabbing Yang, the newspaper said.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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