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China punishes 12 police officers over 11 murders

Authorities have fired or disciplined 12 police officers — including two police chiefs — for inadequately investigating a series of murders in southwest China in which victims were dismembered and buried, state media reported Saturday.

Last month, authorities arrested Zhang Yongming on suspicions that he had killed 11 people since 2008 in Yunnan province. The 56-year-old also is accused of dismembering, burning and burying their bodies to destroy evidence.

China's official Xinhua News Agency said that the officers were punished for failing to meet their responsibilities. Among them were Jinning county police chief Da Qiming and Jincheng township police chief Zhao Huiyun, who were sacked last month, according to a statement posted on Yunnan Police's official website.

Three more lost their jobs, and the remaining seven officers received administrative sanctions, state-run Yunnan Daily said Saturday.

Local media reported last month that at least eight young people had gone missing from Jinning county and that relatives of the missing said police had ignored their pleas for help and prevented them from contacting the media.

It is common for Chinese authorities to remove or demote officials after major incidents that spark public outcry.