Thousands of police officers have launched a massive hunt in eastern China for an uncommunicative loner and one-time policeman suspected in a series of slayings and robberies dating back to 2004, state media reported Monday.
The search in the city of Nanjing centers on Zeng Kaigui, who is suspected of fatally shooting a man in the head Friday shortly after the victim withdrew 200,000 yuan ($31,700) in cash from a bank.
Police in Jiangsu province are offering an award of 100,000 yuan ($16,000) for information leading to his capture, and believe the case is connected to other armed robbery and murder cases in two cities in central Hunan province, according to a statement on their website.
The suspect is thought to have committed at least six attacks at gunpoint _ claiming six lives _ since 2004, the Global Times newspaper reported. Calls to Nanjing police rang unanswered Tuesday.
Private gun ownership is banned in China and violent crime is relatively rare.
The newspaper said Nanjing authorities had deployed 13,000 armed police officers and two helicopters to search the city of 6 million people. Such large manhunts are rarely done so publicly in China.
Teams of police were going through individual buses checking individuals against photos of Zeng. They also manned roadblocks and checked train stations and bus stops in the Yangtze river city, which is 200 miles (300 kilometers) from Shanghai. They searched Internet cafes and hotels and other sites frequented by migrants, the China Daily said.
The China Daily said the suspect was 42 and originally from western Sichuan province, and that he served as an armed police officer 20 years ago. It reported that he is a skilled shooter and can disguise himself to avoid detection. It also said he does not like communicating with others, using gestures and body language when buying his breakfast rather than speaking.
Wanted notices are on display across the city and taxi and bus drivers have been handed the suspect's photo.
The atmosphere in the city is "kind of tense," a doctor in Nanjing, Liu Canhui was quoted as saying. "But I'm not afraid though, the whole city is after the guy."