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Chinese police begin to carry guns during patrols

SHANGHAI--A quarter of the police in Shanghai began carrying guns during routine patrols for the first time this week as part of a China-wide boost in police firepower following a deadly mass knifing blamed on Xinjiang separatists.

Ordinary police in China generally don't carry firearms, and none of the officers patrolling the train station in the southwestern city of Kunming on March 1 was armed when at least five assailants began rapidly hacking at victims.

Before armed reinforcements arrived to subdue the attack, the assailants were able to kill 29 people and wound more than 140, raising concerns about the safety of crowded public places and fears that militants from the far western region of Xinjiang may seek to strike soft targets farther east.

China plans to introduce armed police patrols in several major cities, and started last Thursday in the central city of Xi'an and over the weekend in Shanghai and Qingdao.

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