Aug 09 American tourist killed in Beijing

Aug. 09, 2008, 5:15 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) A man attacked two American tourists, killing one and injuring the other, at an ancient landmark in Beijing on the first day of the Olympic Games on Saturday, then leapt to his death from the structure, state media reported.

A Chinese man attacked the two Americans, a man and a woman, and their Chinese tourist guide around 12:20 p.m. on the second level of the Drum Tower, a popular tourist attraction in northern Beijing, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Citing the Beijing Municipal Government Information Office, Xinhua said Tang Yongming, 47, killed the American man and injured both the American woman and the female guide. The attacker was identified by an identity card found on his body, it said.

Tang then "killed himself by jumping from the second story of the Drum Tower," Xinhua said.

The government information office did not specify the method of attack, Xinhua said.

The two women were rushed to a hospital, Xinhua said.

The attack occurred just hours after competition started for the Olympic Games, a source of national pride for China. The government has imposed unprecedented security measures in the capital to prevent protests or other trouble.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Richard Buangan said it was "aware of the reports of the accidents suffered by two American citizens. We are working with the Chinese authorities to find out more on the cause of the incident."

He declined to comment further, but said U.S. officials were in contact with relatives of the two Americans who are in Beijing.

Police blocked off streets leading to the Drum Tower immediately after the attack and cordoned off the area with yellow police tape. Security officers were examining the scene on the tower and below.

Attacks on foreigners in China are extremely rare. A Canadian model was murdered last month in Shanghai, but police said that was because she stumbled onto a burglary.

In March, a screaming, bomb-strapped hostage-taker who commandeered a bus with 10 Australians aboard in the popular tourist city of Xi'an was shot to death by a police sniper.

Shanghai and Beijing are still safer than most foreign cities of their size. Punishments for crimes against foreigners are heavier than for crimes against Chinese, and police-linked neighborhood watch groups are highly vigilant. Chinese are not allowed to own guns.

Even so, the U.S. government now warns Americans against muggings, beatings and even carjackings, especially in the nightlife and shopping districts of large cities.

Built in the 13th century, the Drum Tower is one of the few ancient structures still in Beijing, and was used to tell time in imperial China for the city, using drummers who pounded their instruments to mark the hours. It is located on an important central axis of the city, to the north of the Forbidden City, the former home of the emperor.

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