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American stabbed in Dashilan, Beijing

By Zhang Hui and Li Ying (Global Times)

11:06, July 12, 2012

An American man was murdered at Qudeng Hutong in Dashilan, Xicheng district, on Wednesday afternoon, police announced.

"A foreign man was stabbed to death by a man at the east of Qudeng Hutong at 3:20 pm Wednesday, and police have arrested the suspect. The case is under investigation," Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau announced on its Sina microblog early Wednesday evening.

At 11 pm Wednesday, Beijing police issued further details of both the alleged suspect and the victim.

The victim was named as Howard Thomas Mills, 62, from the US. He arrived in Beijing on July 3.

The suspect, An Libo, was born in 1977 and is from Heilongjiang Province. He had previously committed two robberies in Shanghai in 2011 before being sent back to his hometown due to mental problems, police said.

Li Jianren, media officer from the Beijing Emergency Medical Center, told the Global Times the victim was transferred to police after medics pronounced him dead at the scene.

A middle-aged woman, who lives nearby, told the Global Times that she looked out of her window after she heard a commotion. She saw the suspect running from east to west along the hutong. Police caught him near Liulichang, she claimed.

"But I didn't see the victim, as he was already surrounded by local residents and police officers," she said.

By 8 pm Wednesday evening, the crime scene was covered over with stones and cement, but blood could still be seen on the ground.

Four police vehicles and some police officers were still guarding the scene.

A local security guard, who started work at 3 pm, said the crime scene was already cordoned off when he walked through the area.

Qudeng Hutong is a small shabby alley off the main Dashilan commercial street. There are some grubby-looking small hotels run by local residents on the street alongside run-down houses, with a few vendors selling fruit.

While many local residents were reluctant to talk about Wednesday's attack, others said that they do have safety concerns about the area, after several incidents involving violent crimes have occurred nearby.

On May 17, an American businessman was stabbed in the buttocks near the gate at the top of Qianmen. His attacker was Wang Taicun, a 61-year-old Shandong man who was trying to draw public attention to a personal grievance, according to the Beijing Times.

The French embassy confirmed with AFP that an elderly French woman was stabbed by a 41-year-old man from Jiangxi Province at Dashilan on September 19, 2009. The woman was not seriously injured, the embassy said.

The French woman was rushed to hospital after the attacker, named as Dou Mingxiang, slashed her, AFP reported Xinhua News Agency as saying.

On September 17, 2009, a drunk man stabbed 16 people, killing two and injuring 14, also on Dashilan. Zhang Jianfei, 46, from Jilin Province, was sentenced to death at Beijing No.1 Intermediate Court, and was executed this May, the Legal Mirror reported.

A man surnamed Cao, a fruit vendor who has lived in the area for many years, said that he worries about his safety following the recent incidents.

"It's really unsafe to live here. From this spot right here, where I sell fruit, I have witnessed so many fights and killings," Cao claimed.

But foreign visitors to the area on Wednesday evening still seemed unconcerned about their personal safety in the Qianmen and Dashilan area.

A tourist from London, who gave his name as Adrian, said he had just settled in a nearby hotel in Dashilan Wednesday afternoon under a friend's advice.

"I didn't know about the attack, but I think this place is safe," he said.

A 21-year-old New Zealander, called Max, said he believes the Dashilan area is much safer than the previous place he stayed, in Aoyuncun, Chaoyang district.

"It's a famous scenic spot, and I believe it's safe," he said

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