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American murdered in Beijing as Olympics kick off PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 10 August 2008

AFP, BEIJING - An American relative of a US Olympic coach was killed and another injured in a stabbing attack in Beijing on Saturday, officials said, raising security fears as the Games got into full swing.

A Chinese man stabbed the pair and their Chinese tourist guide as they were visiting the historic Drum Tower monument, a popular tourist site in the centre of the city, the US Olympic Committee (USOC) and Beijing police said.

The assailant, a 47-year-old man from eastern China, then jumped off the second storey of the monument and killed himself, police said in a statement, without giving details as to why he carried out the attack.

The USOC said the victims were family members of a coach for the United States Olympic men's volleyball team. Beijing police said the person killed was a man and the two injured were women.

"The United States Olympic Committee has learned of an incident that occurred earlier today involving two family members of a coach for the United States Olympic Men's Indoor Volleyball Team," the USOC said in a statement.

"Two family members were stabbed during an attack by what local law enforcement authorities have indicated was a lone assailant. One of the family members was killed and the other seriously injured."

The attack occurred despite China deploying massive security in Beijing for the Olympics, with more than 150,000 police and other personnel on patrol across the city.

An estimated 450,000 foreigners are expected to come to Beijing for the Olympics, which opened on Friday night and will finish on August 24.

The killing also occurred as US President George W. Bush was in the city to attend the Games. Bush was due to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday.

Acts of violence against foreigners in Beijing and throughout China are extremely rare, with expatriates happy to wander around the streets of the capital late at night.

But Chinese authorities have been clearly on edge over security in the lead-up to the Olympics, warning of a wide range of threats to people coming to Beijing for the event.

China has expressed most concern about Islamic terrorists trying to wreck the Games, and Chinese authorities said militants attacked and killed 16 policemen in the Muslim-populated far northwest of the country last week.

There was no indication that Saturday's incident had anything to with terrorism.

A US embassy spokesman, Richard Buangan, said he was aware of the incident but could give no details.

"I can tell you that we are working with the family and the Chinese authorities while we speak," Buangan told AFP, declining to comment further.

The Drum Tower is in the historic heart of Beijing. Together with the Bell Tower, the sites were once used for banging of drums and bells to tell time.

Now the Drum and Bell towers are tourist sites, with visitors able to stroll from them to the city's famed old lakes and other historic areas.

Police closed off the Drum Tower on Saturday afternoon following the incident, which occurred just after midday (0400 GMT).

Police identified the attacker as Tang Yongming, from the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

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