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Taichung police arrest seven over extortion

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Police in Taichung have arrested seven people for allegedly blackmailing a construction company handling an urban renewal project in Taipei, officials said yesterday.

Police on Thursday raided several premises in the central city, nabbing the chief suspect, surnamed Chu, and six of his alleged accomplices on extortion charges, officials said.

Chu is believed to be the leader of a branch of the Bamboo Union Gang, police officials added.

According to police, the suspects blackmailed the construction firm under the corporate name CTBC Financial Holding Co., demanding it pay them NT$9 million to settle what they called a land dispute.

They showed up at the company's premises three times to exert pressure late last year and also sent text messages to the president of the company, allegedly threatening to kill him if he failed to meet their demand.

The suspects are also believed to have been behind another extortion case where a fish farmer in Taichung was told he must pay almost NT$10 million to settle a debt that he had already settled more than 10 years ago, the officials said.

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