Chinese police have rounded up 12 suspects in the kidnapping earlier this week of five Tibetan children, a rare crime in Tibetan-populated regions of western China, according to a Tibetan source.
Though the ethnicity of the kidnappers is still unknown, the men taking the children were seen wearing Chinese-style paramilitary uniforms, the source told RFA’s Tibetan service on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
It could not be confirmed whether any of those detained by police were involved in the kidnapping on Monday.
But the children have not been released, and the kidnappers have demanded huge ransoms for their return.
“On Sept. 10, a group of thieves or robbers suddenly appeared in the Drong Thu Meling nomadic area of Tsigorthang county in the Tsolho [in Chinese, Hainan] prefecture [of Qinghai province],” the source said.
“Going to a playground at a local school, they kidnapped three children from the Drong Thu Meling area and two other children from another area and took off in a vehicle,” the source said, adding that the children came mostly from “well-off” families in the area.
“The kidnappers were wearing paramilitary uniforms,” the source said.
“Later, a call was received through one of the children, demanding a ransom of 200,000 yuan [U.S. $31,556] for each of the five children who were taken. The parents were threatened that if the ransom was not paid, the children would not be released.”
RFA’s source identified three of the kidnapped children as Rinchen Dorje, 14; Palgon Gyal, 11; and Rigdzin Dorje, 11. All three came from the Drong Thu Meling area, he said.
The names of the other two children were not immediately available.
“Local police went after the kidnappers and rounded up about 12 suspects,” the source said. “But they could not confirm whether any of those detained were involved in the kidnapping.”
Reached for comment, an officer at the Tsigorthang county police station was unable to provide immediate information.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.