Chinese police apologize to Japanese reporters after clash

August 5th, 2008 - 10:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Kashi (China), Aug 5 (Xinhua) Officials and the police in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur region apologized Tuesday to two Japanese reporters who were manhandled for covering the terrorist attack in the region Monday. Both sides expressed understanding of the incident after local foreign affairs officials and border policemen had a meeting with the reporters Tuesday in Kashi, the officials told Xinhua.

The two reporters clashed with local border police when they tried to film a controlled restricted area at around 11 p.m. Monday night.

The reporters, identified as Masami Kawakita, a 38-year-old photographer with the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper, and Shinji Katsuta, a 37-year-old reporter for Nippon Television, were taken away for investigation after the clash.

“Journalists are forbidden in the area controlled by border police, but the two disobeyed the rules,” said Eskar, administration secretary of the regional office of foreign affair in Kashi.

“But we are sorry for the incident and the damage to the equipment that belonged to the reporters,” Eskar added.

The border police said they would pay for repairing the equipment and medical bills for the physical checks of the journalists when they returned to Beijing.

The two reporters had accepted the apology and compensation and had notified their headquarters.

The border police division in Kashi is a controlled military area, to which reporters are denied access, Liu Yaohua, head of the public security department of Xinjiang, said at a press conference held in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang.

“Overseas journalists are granted press freedom by the Chinese government. However, they should get approval from interviewees before they go on with the interviews,” Liu said.

“The Japanese reporters violated the rules of China by forcing their way into a military area. The act was not well-justified, and they should accept the consequences,” Liu said in response to a question raised by a Japanese news organization.

“I, however, apologize to the reporters, as the top regional public security official, for the clash they had with the border policemen.”

The two Japanese reporters had gone to Kashi to cover a violent raid on border police on Monday that had killed at least 16 border police and left 16 others injured.

Earlier in the day, Japanese chief cabinet secretary Nobutaka Machimura said in Tokyo that the government was planning to file a formal protest with China if the report about police brutality against Japanese reporters was confirmed.

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