Classes resume after syringe attacks

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Schools have reopened in western China's Urumqi city after being closed for 10 days in the wake a spate of syringe attacks which caused panic in the streets.

Local authorities closed the schools and imposed traffic controls in the city on 4 September after mass demonstrations by tens thousands of Han Chinese against what they said was a government that could not guarantee their safety against the attacks.

All primary and middle school classes resumed yesterday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

More than 500 people complained of being stabbed by hypodermic needles, but only 171 people showed evidence of being pricked, and tests of samples from victims found evidence of infections transmitted, Xinhua said.

Qian Jun, head of the disease control and biological security office with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, said there were no examples of toxic chemicals or the HIV virus. Around 250 victims have been checked and found to have no wounds or illnesses, it said.

The Urumqi General Hospital has arranged three psychological experts and opened four counseling hot lines, it said.

On Saturday, the Intermediate People's Court in Urumqi sentenced three people to up to 15 years in prison in the first trials over the attacks. The three were all ethnic Uighurs, members of a mostly Muslim minority who are culturally distinct from China's majority Han group who dominate life in Urumqi and positions of power.

One person was sentenced for stabbing a woman and the other two for robbing a taxi driver with a syringe.