April 5, 2008 / 7:35 AM / 11 years ago

Beijing police raid popular bar district for drugs

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing police detained more than 20 people, including eight foreigners, on suspicion of using and trafficking drugs in two bars in Sanlitun, a popular bar district, the Xinhua news agency and witnesses said.

Police raided the street late on Friday, closed the Phoenix Cafe and Pure Girl Bar and seized Yaba tablets, ecstasy and marijuana, Xinhua said, citing Beijing’s public security authority.

Eyewitnesses said scuffles broke out as police with dogs, batons and guns demanded identity cards and passports, and that several foreigners, mostly young women, were escorted away to waiting vans.

“I saw people being dragged out of bars with their heads covered. One girl was struggling and they pushed her down to her knees and pushed her head into the pavement,” said a British eyewitness.

Xinhua did not specify the suspects’ nationality.

Beijing is tightening security and police are instituting regular checks of foreign residents ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games, which open in August. China is eager for the Games to go off without a hitch.

In September, five foreigners were detained during a similar raid, in which witnesses said police specifically targeted foreigners with dark skin. That did not appear to be the case on Friday night, the witnesses said.

Reporting by Ian Ransom and Lucy Hornby; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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