China reassures foreign visitors after murder of American (Lead)

August 10th, 2008 - 2:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 10 (DPA) Chinese officials Sunday sought to reassure foreign visitors that they were safe in Beijing and said the stabbing to death of the father-in-law of a US Olympic volleyball coach was an isolated incident. The attack in Beijing Saturday, in which the man’s wife and a Chinese tour guide were injured, was an “isolated criminal act” and not linked to the Olympics, said Wang Wei, the executive vice-president of the Beijing Olympic organizers (BOCOG).

Wang told reporters that senior health and foreign ministry officials had visited hospitals treating the two injured women and “made sure that everything possible was done to help them.”

Chinese President Hu Jintao later expressed his sympathy to US President George W Bush.

“I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy to you and the family of the victims over this unfortunate incident,” state media quoted Hu as telling Bush.

“We started investigation on this case immediately, and will handle it seriously in accordance with the law,” Hu said.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) identified the dead man as Todd Bachman, the father-in-law of US Olympic men’s volleyball head coach Hugh McCutcheon.

BOCOG said in a statement that it was “deeply saddened to learn of the tragic attack” and “extends sincere condolences to the victims and their families”.

“Beijing is a safe city, and the police are doing their best to provide a safe environment for all tourists, Chinese and international, during their travels in Beijing,” it said.

Bachman’s wife, Barbara Bachman, suffered “multiple lacerations and stab wounds” in the attack and was in “critical but stable condition” at a Beijing hospital after eight hours of surgery, USOC said.

“It is impossible to describe the depth of our sadness and shock in this tragic hour,” USOC Chairman Peter Ueberroth said in statement.

“Our delegation comes to the Games as a family, and when one member of our family suffers a loss, we all grieve with them,” Ueberroth said.

“Our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences are with the Bachman and McCutcheon families,” he said.

Chinese state media said the assailant jumped to his death after the knife attack on an upper floor Beijing’s ancient Drum Tower.

Police found that he was carrying an identity card in the name of Tang Yongming, 47, from the eastern city of Hangzhou.

US President George W. Bush said later Saturday that he was “saddened by the attack on an American family and their Chinese tour guide today in Beijing.”

A report on the website of New Zealand broadcaster TVNZ said Chinese authorities were also investigating an attack on one of its sports commentators close to its crew’s Beijing accommodation Friday.

Steve Robilliard, an Australian ABC commentator working for TVNZ, said the man grabbed a broken chair and threw it at him, causing minor cuts to his wrist and arm.

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates has advised Australian athletes to wear official team gear as a security measure.

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