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Five criminal suspects detained for setting fire in Lhasa riot

    BEIJING, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Five criminal suspects have been detained over two arson attacks in which 10 people died during the Lhasa riots and have confessed their guilt, said an official with the Chinese Ministry of Public Security here Monday.

    The ministry's spokesperson Shan Huimin briefed the public on the two arson cases at a press conference.

    Three suspects have been detained for an arson attack at a shop named Yishion at 2:30 p.m. March 14 in which five female sales assistants were burnt to death.

    In another case, two people were detained over an arson attack in a motorbike shop at around 10 p.m. March 15, which caused the deaths of five victims including an eight-month old boy and his parents.

    Riots erupted in Lhasa on March 14 when rioters set fire to and looted public facilities, buildings and shops. The violence has 242 police officers injured, according to Shan.

    Shan said facts had proved that the March 14 riot was by no means a "peaceful demonstration" and "peaceful protest", but a severe violent criminal incident.

    The criminal sabotages were well-organized, premeditated and an outcome of overseas forces instigating domestic separatists to resort to violence.

    Their ulterior motive was to disturb the Beijing Olympic Games, destroy the peace and stability and split the country.

    The whole nation were indignant and fiercely denounced all the cruel acts of the mob.

    The spokesperson said currently the riot has been calmed down and social order in Lhasa had been restored.

    The spokesperson said in the process of dealing with the March 14 riot in Lhasa, police always maintained great restraint and never used any lethal weapons.     


    The suspects, themselves also young women, came to the shop on March 14 after other mobs broke into the shop and looted it, and set fire to the remaining clothes, according to Shan.

    One suspect named Ben'gyi, 21, used a lighter to ignite jeans, another suspect, whose name is also Ben'gyi but 23 years old, set fire to other clothes and inflammable subjects. A 20-year-old Qime Lhazom threw clothes to the fire, said Shan.

    They left the shop after the fire burnt fiercely, which caused the deaths of the five victims who were hiding in the shop, said Shan. The five victims were all young girls in their 20s.


    Shan said the two male suspects involved in the motorcycle shop arson case were named Loyar, 25 and Kangzug, 22. Loyar participated in the riot at 10:00 p.m. on March 15, by throwing stones at shops, attacking police and setting fire to a grain shop named "Minhe". He later joined Kangzug to break into and set fire to a motorbike shop.

    After the motorbike shop was burnt, Loyar went to a food shop next door and threw two liquid gas jars from the shop into the motorcycle shop, which caused the death of five victims hiding in a room on the second floor, said Shan.

    She added that all the five criminal suspects have confessed their guilt after initial investigation.

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