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15 July 2024

China launches manhunt for serial killer


Thousands of police in east China have begun a major manhunt for a serial killer believed to be a former armed police officer who has evaded arrest for at least eight years, state media reported Monday.

Two helicopters and 13,000 officers have been deployed in the search for Zeng Kaigui, a 42-year-old man who once served in the army's armed police force and is adept at evading surveillance, the official Global Times daily said.

The suspect shot dead a man who had just withdrawn 200,000 yuan (ê31,700) from a bank in Nanjing city on Friday, the city's police force said in a statement over the weekend.

The statement said police were offering 100,000 yuan to anyone providing clues about the case.

Zeng is believed to have carried out six other armed robberies in two other Chinese cities between April 2004 and June 2011, killing six people, injuring two others and stealing a total of 280,000 yuan.

Police are patrolling bus and train stations, river docks, Internet cafes and hotels in the city and have set up roadblocks on major roads to check suspicious vehicles, the Global Times said, citing police sources.

Male passengers taking long-distance public transportation are now required to show their ID cards before boarding.

A spokesman for the Nanjing government confirmed to AFP that Friday's shooting and the past six armed robberies were related, but would not comment further. Police also refused to comment.

The suspect shot the man in the head on Friday morning before taking his money and leaving the scene, according to an eyewitness.

Many business transactions in China are still conducted using cash, and it is not unusual to see people withdrawing large amounts of money at banks.

Crime rates have risen steadily in China since the country began opening up more than three decades ago, undergoing dramatic social changes.

Police say robbery rates often increase during the Chinese Lunar New Year period, the nation's main holiday, as people carry more money on them than usual.

But gun crime still remains rare in China, where extremely tight laws bar virtually all private gun ownership.