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China Exclusive: Beijing starts security checks at parks after fatal stabbing
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08:39, August 14, 2008

Police started security checks at park gates in the capital region on Wednesday in a bid to keep knives and other dangerous items out of these areas, in the wake of the fatal stabbing of a U.S. tourist.

The Beijing Municipal Administration Center of Parks announced that local police and park staff would carry out sample inspections on tourists at entrances of 11 parks with hand-held security instruments.

The parks include the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Zoo, Beihai Park and Fragrant Hill (Xiangshan) Park.

The police said fruit knives longer than 8 cm would be confiscated and tourists carrying large packages would be stopped for checks. Those who refused to be checked or insisted on carrying potentially dangerous items would be banned from entering the parks.

Meanwhile, the city's parks have established their own security teams, which would conduct 24-hour patrols at major scenic spots, tourist routes and other crowded sites inside the parks.

On Wednesday afternoon, guards were seen standing at the northern entrance of Beihai Park, using hand-held metal scanners to inspect visitors and their bags.

"All our guards and security instruments are ready," said a park official, Xia Guodong, adding the park was negotiating with local police on the work arrangement.

Zhang Yafen, a tourist from central China's Hunan Province, said she could understand the move.

"I will surely accept the inspection. It's not troublesome," she said.

Zhang Jun, from Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, opened his backpack for inspection at the western gate of the Temple of Heaven.

"We all want a safe Olympics. This kind of inspection will be useful to prevent attacks," the man said.

On Saturday, a man stabbed two American tourists -- one fatally -- and a Chinese tour guide in downtown Beijing. The attacker then killed himself by jumping from the second story of the 13th-century Drum Tower, a popular tourist site.

Beijing was safe, though not immune to violent acts, said Wang Wei, a spokesman of the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 29th Olympic Games. "Saturday's attack was an isolated criminal act unrelated to the Games and was not targeted at the Americans," he said.

But the attack has added to the security pressure in Beijing, where a 110,000-strong security team is at work during the Olympics, including police and volunteers who work around the clock to patrol nearly every corner of the city.

"This happens everywhere in the world," said Anna Laumay from France, "Beijing is a safe city. Security checks at the park will make it safer."

The Drum Tower and nearby Bell Tower were still closed on Wednesday after the attacker stabbed the two American tourists. The two famous scenic spots were shut down on Sunday.

Notifications that say "operation suspended temporarily" were posted at the ticket offices. No information was available on when they would be reopened. Volunteer patrols were on the square between the two towers.

Other popular scenic spots have also tightened security. The Summer Palace, a former imperial resort, began implementing the measures the day after the stabbing.

In the run-up to the Games, Beijing tightened security checks on subway trains and buses. And since July 30, visitors had to pass security checks at all entrances to Tian'anmen Square in downtown Beijing.

Security gates were erected at the Badaling Great Wall's six entrances. Security guards began checking tourists and their bags using hand-held metal scanners from July 14.


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