American Stabbed and Killed in Beijing

With the memory of a spectacular opening ceremony still in everyone’s mind, some news from the opposite end of the emotional spectrum came out of Beijing today. Two American tourists, a man and woman, and a local guide were attacked by a man carrying a knife.

The attack took place at the famous Drum Tower that sits above the hutong near Houhai Lake. The tour guide and the woman were injured, but their male companion was killed. The two Americans were relatives of a US volleyball coach.

The attacker, identified by Xinhua News Agency as Tang Yongming from the city of Hangzhou, jumped to his death off the second floor of the tower after the attack.

Such an event is almost unheard of in China. It is even more surprising because of heavy security throughout Beijing. Chinese authorities have expressed concern about terrorism and unauthorized protests in the lead-up to the Games, but crimes against tourists are usually limited to pickpocketing and price gouging.

This appears to have been a random attack. According to reports, the victims were not wearing anything that identified them as Americans.

The attack took place at noon Beijing time. The tower remains sealed off from the public as police investigate.

New York Times coverage of the attack