BEIJING - China executed two men who abducted and sold children, some of whom still cannot find their parents, the official news agency said, reflecting growing public anger over the grim trade.
The Xinhua news agency reported that Hu Minghua, 55, and Su Binde, 27, were executed on Thursday after separate courts found them guilty of taking children from their families to sell, especially to childless rural couples wanting boys.
Hu was found guilty of abducting nine children from 1999 to 2005. Five were returned to their parents, but "the rest were rescued by the police but have not found their parents," said Xinhua, citing a statement from China's supreme court, which must authorize any executions.
Su was found guilty of stealing six children from 2005 to 2006, one of whom has not yet found his parents.
The business of child abduction has stirred growing public ire and media attention in China, where parents of missing children have complained that police have given scant help in hunting for missing sons or daughters.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children go missing in China each year, and those abducted can also be bought by roving criminal gangs to serve as props for beggars. Others end up sold to rural couples, who in traditional areas prize having a male heir to support the family.
Estimates of the numbers of victims are difficult to come by. The Chinese supreme court said 1,714 people were punished for abducting and trafficking children in the first 10 months of this year, as the government ramped up a crackdown on the crime.
Since April, Chinese police have rescued 2,008 abducted children, the report said.
(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Ken Wills and Sanjeev Miglani)