China ends biggest-ever manhunt with deadly show of its authority as Zhou Kehua is tracked down

'Most dangerous man' cornered and killed by police in show of strength by a ruling party under pressure

Beijing

A fugitive described as "China's most dangerous man" was shot dead by police in the south-western city of Chongqing yesterday, ending a four-day manhunt involving thousands of officers and soldiers.

The unusually high-profile chase – followed by the country's media with a level of detail rarely seen – culminated when Zhou Kehua, accused of killing nine people and committing a string of armed robberies, was cornered and killed in an alleyway in the city's Shapingba district.

The Xinhua news agency posted a photograph on its website which was said to show Zhou's body, in a checked shirt and grey trousers, his mobile phone and sunglasses on the ground beside him, and a stream of blood flowing from his head.

Authorities will have been keen to exhibit a firm grip on crime, both in Chongqing and at a national level, after the fall earlier this year of the city's former Communist party head, Bo Xilai, who had been tipped to join China's powerful Politburo this year. Mr Bo, whose wife stood trial last week accused of the murder of the British businessman Neil Heywood, made his name by running a popular crackdown on crime in the city.

This policy, and the reputation of the Chongqing administration, became tainted when Mr Bo's former police chief, Wang Lijun, arrived at a US consulate earlier this year apparently offering evidence which implicated Mr Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, in Mr Heywood's death.

The Bo scandal, which has rocked China's ruling elite, comes at a time when stability is crucial ahead of a once-in-a-decade top-level power transition in the Communist Party later this year.

"Zhou's death was a relief for China's public security officers, who were under great pressure to nab him as soon as possible," Xinhua reported yesterday.

Earlier this week, annual leave for police in the neighbouring provinces of Sichuan and Guizhou was cancelled and officers were placed on high alert. The Vice-Minister of Public Security, Zhang Xinfeng, travelled to Chongqing to lead the manhunt.

"If he wasn't killed, it wouldn't appease the public anger. Chongqing police did well!" read a comment on China's popular micro-blogging website Sina Weibo, quoted in the Wall Street Journal.

Zhou, 42, who had managed to evade previous police detection in Guizhou and Sichuan, was described by police as "ruthless and extremely dangerous" and a bounty of 5.4m yuan (£540,000) was placed on his head. Cases such as Zhou's are rare in China, where private gun ownership is prohibited.

Zhou had been implicated in robberies and killings in three provinces dating back eight years, including the death of a People's Liberation Army soldier in March 2009. But the manhunt was intensified after he allegedly shot dead a woman and wounded two others outside a Chongqing bank on Friday. Police said a total of 250,000 yuan was stolen from the victims. He was also suspected of killing a railway police officer in a later incident on the same day.

When the suspect was spotted by plainclothes police officers in Chongqing early yesterday, a gunfight is said to have ensued. Wang Xiaoyu, one of the officers who shot Zhou, told how the suspect had opened fire three times after he realised he was being followed.

"He was less than three metres ahead of us," Mr Wang told Xinhua, adding that the fugitive's first shot had just missed him.

Zhou is believed to have hidden behind a telephone pole and exchanged shots, before being hit by four bullets. Police said they later found another pistol, three loaded bullet clips, some bullets and more than 10,000 yuan in cash in his bag.

"We heard that the suspect was besieged in Shapingba, which disturbed us very much," a Chongqing resident, one of hundreds of locals who turned out to see the crime scene, told Xinhua. "His death is definitely a great relief."

However, questions soon peppered Sina Weibo, with users asking why police had been photographed rifling through Zhou's belongings without gloves, why Zhou had not been captured and put on trial, and how he had eluded police for so long.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
people
Voices
Nigel Farage arrives for a hustings event at The Oddfellows Hall in Ramsgate on Tuesday
voicesA defection that shows who has the most to fear from the rise of Ukip
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Life and Style
Brave step: A live collection from Alexander McQueen whose internet show crashed because of high demand
fashionAs the collections start, Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL) Su...

Junior SQL DBA (SQL Server 2012, T-SQL, SSIS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior SQL DBA...

C# Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, MVC-4, HTML5) London

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Web Develop...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution