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Security clampdown after killing

By Eugene Bingham

Olympic organisers say security at tourist sites will be tightened after the killing of Todd Bachman, the father-in-law of a New Zealand volleyball coach.

Wang Wei, vice-president of the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee, said yesterday although it was a random and rare event, security in the Chinese capital would be beefed up.

"Perhaps we will add security checks to make sure no weapons [at tourist sites]," said Mr Wang. "Beijing is a safe city but unfortunately we aren't immune to violent acts."

Security around Olympic venues was tight enough, but tourist spots such as the Drum Tower where the attack occurred would be looked at.

Mr Bachman and his wife Barbara were attacked by a knife-wielding man on Saturday afternoon (Beijing time) when they were visiting the site near Forbidden City with their daughter, Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon. Mrs Bachman remains critically injured after eight hours of surgery in a Beijing hospital.

Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon, who is married to the Christchurch-born-and-bred US volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon, was not injured in the attack. McCutcheon did not attend his team's first match yesterday so he could be with his wife at her mother's bedside.

He has been based in the US since 1990, but returns to New Zealand regularly to visit his mother and sister in Christchurch.

The shocking attack cast a pall over the Games yesterday, just the second full day of competition.

New Zealand team chef de mission Dave Currie visited his US Olympic Committee compatriot to express his condolences. The killing had shocked the New Zealand team.

Mr Currie said the team's police liaison officer had been informed about the attack by Olympic security officials, though they did not find out about the McCutcheon connection until yesterday.

He believed sufficient security measures were already in place to protect the New Zealand athletes. Any New Zealanders who wished to leave the village to visit the city needed to report their whereabouts and be careful.

The Australian team reacted to the attack by telling its athletes to wear team uniforms to clearly identify themselves as non-Americans. But Mr Currie said he did not think that was necessary.

Mr Currie said he could understand how parents of athletes might be worried, but he believed they should not be.

Mr Wang said all the information investigators and US embassy officials who visited the scene of the attack could gather showed the Bachmans were not targeted because of any affiliation with the Olympics or the US.

"There is no reason to believe this violent act was targeted on any specific nation," he said.

The attacker was named as Tang Yongming, 47. According to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua, he leapt to his death from a 40m high balcony on the tower afterwards.

Mr Wang said Tang was from Hangzhou and came to Beijing on August 1. He had no fixed abode, had resigned from his job at a meter factory, and was divorced.

"Tang has no criminal record. His neighbours said they hadn't seen any abnormal behaviour from him," a spokesman with the Zhejiang Provincial Public Security Bureau said.

A Hong Kong human rights group said Tang was a "petitioner", a disgruntled worker who travels to the capital seeking redress from the government for various grievances. But Mr Wang said he did not believe this was the case as he had not submitted any complaints to government officials.

The US volleyball team, which McCutcheon has coached since 2005, leading them to gold medal contention, was devastated by the attack.

Before last night's game against Venezuela, the team released a statement saying they were united in their grief with the family.

"We are absolutely devastated by what has occurred, for their loss and for everything they are going through," the statement said. "We have been in touch with Hugh throughout this tragedy and we are extremely proud of the strength he and Elisabeth are displaying. They know we are here for them in every possible. We are a family and we will get through this together as a family."

- NZ Herald

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