Chinese police have seized 196 tons of explosives in a nationwide crackdown on the illegal production and handling of explosives, the China Daily said Saturday.

The Ministry of Public Security shut down 577 manufacturers of explosives and 1,202 retailers across China between the end of March and mid-May, the newspaper said.The sweep followed a spate of bombings and accidental blasts earlier this year that police blamed on lax controls over explosives in the mining and construction sectors.

The explosions have alarmed police at a time of rising social tension linked to the country's wrenching industrial transformation and slowing economic growth.

"Many small-scale construction operations, as well as rural mining pits, mines and quarries, often disregard safety standards when moving, stor-ing or using explosive materials," the newspaper said.

Authorities had inspected about 17,000 entities involved in the explosives business, suspending 110 licenses and punishing 1,272 people, it said.