Police should get ready to shoot when dealing with knife-wielding fanatics

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-1-21 21:08:01

When police from Pingxiang, a border city in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, tried to stop several Uyghurs from illegally crossing the border, they resisted arrest and attacked the policemen. Two of the Uyghurs were shot dead and the other three were captured.

The case conjures up images of recent news stories. For example, last week, police from Shule county, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region shot dead six assailants who attacked them with axes and explosive devices.

Also, it's reported that the radical Islamic State is attracting terrorists from all over the world, and some brainwashed radical young men who are obsessed with "jihad" have been seduced to make their way to join jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Some may say that once they leave, there will be less danger at home. But the truth is that they are not leaving forever.

According to the typical practice of the terrorists, they will be back with "practical experience" after undergoing terrorist training.

Some of the stowaways even receive orders to attack if they fail to cross the border. The attacks in Kunming on March 1, 2014, when assailants killed 29 civilians and injured hundreds at a railway station, was conducted by blocked border-crossers. The brainwashed extremists are highly dangerous to the public.

Nonetheless, these are not reasons that every terrorist suspect should be shot dead on site. We also believe that police will not use their weapons recklessly.

There are strict restrictions stipulated by the law in China for police to open fire, which police from all over the country are familiar with. In the many cases of illegal border-crossing, violent resistance to arrest often occurs, but very few suspects are killed. This is because whether or not police will take this extreme measure depends on the risk presented by the suspects, not their identity or motives.

However, despite the relevant regulations and laws, police in China have been too restrained to shoot in the past, which to some extent encouraged the extremists' behavior and made them think they have nothing to fear. By comparison, police in the US and other Western countries are more decisive when it comes to opening fire.

Of course, once they shoot, the case will always spark controversy. But they will always be supported by public opinion in the end. Recurrent cases like this seem to make policemen more confident to open fire once they feel it is necessary.

Yet in China, few authorities like that are granted to police. We are more familiar with "a policeman was killed on duty" than "the attacker was shot dead."

Nowadays, the Chinese public often cheer once they hear the assailants were killed on the spot. It shows the citizens' abhorrence toward the attackers and the expectations of decisive law-enforcement.

Thus, Chinese policemen are facing a tough challenge. They must be careful when using weapons, but also be bold in opening fire to stop crimes at critical times. Meanwhile, they must not accidentally injure innocent people by defending themselves excessively. Every shot they fire has to be righteous and rightful.

Those desperate criminals should be aware now, for police are now carrying guns with ammunition for real, and those times when police went easy on knife-wielding attackers are gone.

The article is an editorial from the Chinese edition of the Global Times on Tuesday. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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