China's 'most wanted' robber shot and killed by police

Mugshots released by Chinese authorities purportedly showing Zhou Kehua between 2005 and 2011.

Story highlights

  • Zhou Kehua -- one of the country's most wanted criminals -- killed by police in Chongqing
  • Zhou accused of killing 10 people during a series of attempted robberies since 2004
  • 42 year old escaped similar manhunt in Nanjing in January after a man was shot during a robbery

A fugitive gunman thought to be behind a string of armed robberies and murders in China dating back to 2004 has been shot and killed following a huge manhunt.

Zhou Kehua -- one of the country's most wanted criminals -- was killed by police in the southwestern city of Chongqing on Tuesday morning, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Described as "ruthless and highly dangerous" by Chinese authorities, Zhou became infamous for robbing people while they were drawing money from banks and repeatedly dodging police manhunts.

Thousands of police and soldiers were drafted in over the weekend to search for the 42 year old after a woman was shot dead and two others injured on Friday outside a bank in Chongqing during an attempted robbery, Xinhua said.

Later that day, local police reported that a railway policeman was killed while in pursuit of a man believed to be Zhou -- his ninth victim in eight years following a series of robberies in Chongqing, Nanjing and Changsha.

All his victims were shot in the head, according to media reports.

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Zhou was eventually tracked down in Shapingba, a mountainous district on the outskirts of Chongqing, after police uncovered a cave on Monday that Zhou is believed to have stayed in. Inside were two cigarette cases, a T-shirt and human waste, China Daily reported.

China's Ministry of Public Security classified Zhou as a "class-A" suspect, with a total 5.4 million yuan (US$849,000) in rewards being offered for information leading to his capture.

A huge -- but ultimately fruitless -- search for Zhou was carried out in January this year after he allegedly shot and robbed a man who had just withdrawn 200,000 yuan ($31,700) from a bank in Nanjing before fleeing in a car.

Nanjing Public Security Bureau's Xuanwu district office told CNN at the time that tens of thousands of police officers took part in the manhunt. It also published two video clips online of the suspect escaping the scene.