Authorities say a court in China's northwest Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region has sentenced three people to up to 15 years in prison for syringe attacks.The official Xinhua news agency said Saturday that after a two-hour trial, a 19-year-old man (Yilipan Yilihamu) was given 15 years for jabbing a woman with a needle. Xinhua said a 35-year-old man (Muhutaerjiang Turday) and a 22-year-old woman (Aimannisha Guli) were sentenced to 10 years and seven years respectively for threatening a taxi driver with a syringe and stealing 104 dollars.
Although the agency did not give the ethnicity of the three, their names suggested they belong to the Uighur minority, a Muslim Turkic people who claim Xinjiang as their homeland.Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital, has been tense since July when deadly riots broke out between Uighurs and Han Chinese.
Since last week, more than 500 people in the capital of Urumqi have reported attacks, though only about 100 showed evidence of being pricked.
Earlier this month, the bizarre stabbings led to mass demonstrations by thousands of Han Chinese against what protesters said was a government not capable of guaranteeing their safety.
Officials and state media have blamed the attacks in Urumqi on separatists bent on destroying ethnic unity.
A demonstration by Uighurs in early July turned into a riot in which nearly 200 people, mostly Han Chinese, were killed. Han Chinese launched revenge attacks two days later.
Uighurs have long complained of discrimination by the Han Chinese, who dominate China's leadership. The Uighurs say they are denied economic opportunities and are persecuted for their different culture and religion. Beijing says it treats everyone equally.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters and AP.