Ten Australian tourists held hostage in Xi'an.

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Ten Australian tourists held hostage in Xi'an.

Postby long_way » Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:57 pm

Source: http://www.china.org.cn/living_in_china ... 817988.htm
http://www.shanghaidaily.com/sp/article ... 351208.htm

Hostage survivors prepare to leave Shanghai

Australian hostage siege survivors leave a Shanghai hotel bound for Australia. The group of nine women, who were flanked by Australian consulate staff, did not comment to waiting media about their ordeal as they boarded a bus taking them to Pudong airport this afternoon.

The 10 Australian survivors of a fatal hostage siege in the popular tourist city of Xi'an were today preparing to leave Shanghai but have remained tight-lipped about their ordeal.

Nine of the group of 10, who were briefly held hostage yesterday when a lone-man armed with explosives boarded their tourist bus, did not comment to waiting media this afternoon as they left their hotel to board a bus that took them to Pudong International Airport.

The group is believed to be on a flight bound for Sydney.

The man attacked the group of Australian travel agents when they were visiting the northwest city of Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, famed as home of the Terracotta Warriors, before he was shot dead by a police sniper.

Susan Dietz-Henderson, the Australian consul general for Shanghai and other consulate employees flanked the group as they left their hotel in Jing'an District.

The hostage taker released nine of the hostages after boarding the bus about 10am yesterday.

Earlier today, consulate staff ushered a 48-year-old New South Wales woman out of the hotel along with the group's interpreter, who was also held hostage for several hours during the ordeal.

At about 2.30pm today consulate staff and a representative from the American consulate organized a dark green van with dark tinted windows to pick up the woman from a back entrance of the Shanghai Hotel.

There are unconfirmed reports that a member of the group has already employed the services of a celebrity agent to sell her story.

Some of the group looked tired and weary from the ordeal as they left the hotel at 3pm this afternoon.

But other members of the group broke out into applause, laughed and took souvenir pictures of a small contingent of media as they sat on the bus waiting to go to the international airport.

Australian media were today reporting that a friend of one of the hostages had said the women were shocked when the local worker boarded their bus.

"He was pacing up and down the bus, they couldn't understand what he was saying. Then he turned around, opened up his jacket and he had a bomb strapped to him," said Sue Wynne, a friend of hostage Rhiannon Dunkley, after speaking to her.

In Canberra, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said there was nothing to suggest the Australians were deliberately targeted and the motive for the attack remained unclear.

"We've asked for a full briefing to try to understand the motivation," Smith told journalists in Melbourne.

The travel agents were on an educational tour to Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai, organized by a Sydney-based travel wholesale company, when the attack took place.

As the Australians boarded flights for home from Shanghai, the company's General Manager Jimmy Liu said China was a safe destination for the Olympics in August and described the attack as "very rare."

Smith said Australian travel danger warnings for China were set at a very low level, but urged travelers planning trips to the country for the Olympics to read them for their security.

"This is an unusual event for China and the Chinese authorities are no doubt putting their minds to the motivation behind it," Smith said.

Australian foreign ministry advice for China warns that foreigners have been assaulted and robbed, "particularly in popular expatriate gathering areas."

Xinhua news agency said police believed the man was named Xia Tao and was a worker in Xi'an. Police investigators did not offer an explanation for the attack. China has been preparing for an influx of foreign visitors for the Beijing Olympics, and the government has been at pains to highlight the security steps it is taking.

"I don't view this case as an embarrassment to China. Such things happen in every country and what matters is how you handle it," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang. "Compared with other countries, China is a safer destination for foreign tourists and we will continue to provide a safe environment for foreigners to work, study, live and travel."

(Shanghai Daily March 6, 2008)


http://www.shanghaidaily.com/sp/article ... 351323.htm


Siege survivors head for home
By Sam Riley 2008-3-7

THE 10 Australian survivors of a fatal hostage siege in the popular tourist city of Xi'an left Shanghai for Sydney yesterday.

A man armed with exlosives attacked the group of Australian travel agents when they were visiting the northwest city of Xi'an, famed as the home of the Terracotta Warriors.

The hostage taker, a worker in Xi'an, released nine of the hostages after boarding the bus at about 10am on Wednesday. He kept a 48-year-old Australian woman and a translator as hostage.

Police shot and killed the man after unsuccessful negotiations. No one else was hurt.

One of the hostages told a friend and a family member by phone that most of the Australians ran from the bus as soon as they saw the man had explosives strapped to his body, according to the Associated Press.

"He was pacing up and down the bus. They couldn't understand what he was saying but they said by the look on their guide Eric's face they knew something was amiss," said Sue Wynne, a colleague of one of the hostages, 22-year-old Rhiannon Dunkley.

"The man turned around, opened up his jacket and he had a bomb strapped to him."

Dunkley's father-in-law, Gary Dunkley, said he had also spoken to her by phone.

"She had noticed that this guy was acting suspiciously on the bus and when he swung around they noticed the bomb strapped to him. Three or four spotted it and they just did a bolt off the bus straight away," he told ABC radio.

Nine of the hostages left the bus quickly but a 48-year-old woman from New South Wales stayed on the bus with the group's translator during the hijacker's nearly three-hour standoff with police.

A sniper finally shot and killed the man, Xia Tao.

In Canberra, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said there was nothing to suggest the Australians were deliberately targeted and the motive for the attack remained unclear.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China will ensure foreign tourists' safety during the Olympics in August.

He also expressed sympathy for the Australians. "I sincerely hope they will come to travel in China again and won't consider China unsafe just because of this case."

"China is a safe place for foreigners and we will continue to provide a sound and safe environment for them to work, study, live and travel in the country," Qin said.
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