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China names gunman in shooting spree

BEIJING, Sept. 22 -- The gunman who killed at least 10 people and wounded 30 others in a shooting rampage was a People's Liberation Army first lieutenant angered after he was punished for beating a soldier, the official Xinhua news agency said Wednesday. In China's first explanation of the Tuesday morning shooting spree outside Beijing's diplomatic compound, Xinhua identified the officer as Tian Mingjian, stationed in a unit based in the capital's suburbs. 'Tian had been disciplined for beating a soldier,' a senior police officer was quoted as saying. Armed with an AK-47 automatic rifle, Tian hijacked a jeep and stopped at the highway running by Jianguomenwei, the complex housing foreign diplomats, press and business people. He immediately opened fire. 'To halt the carnage, policemen who rushed to the scene were forced to shoot Tian dead,' the officer said. The cold-blooded mass killing by a lone gunman, the first of its kind in Beijing, left an Iranian diplomat and his son among the dead. An Iranian delegation headed for Beijing to investigate the shooting, while Chinese authorities strengthened security in the city. In Tehran, the Iranian Foreign Ministry twice summoned China's top diplomat and demanded an explanation for the incident, which left dead political attache Youssef Mohammadi Pishknari, 35, and his 9-year-old son. 'A delegation will arrive Thursday from Tehran to investigate the incident with the Chinese security services,' a spokesman at the Iranian Embassy in Beijing said. Other than the brief four-paragraph statement, security officials refused to clear up any more of the mystery shrouding the incident.

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As a result, rumors involving Iranian spies and plots to assasinate Chinese leaders escalated across the city. Tian fatally shot a commanding officer in his barracks 12 miles (20 kilometers) southwest of Beijing, sources said. Most sources said one other soldier was killed, but some reports put the number shot at the barracks as high as seven. The gunman, who was dressed in combat gear, then sped into the city with police in pursuit. He was apparently headed for army headquarters near Beijing's Tiananmen Square to attack higher-ranking officials stationed there, but was ambushed by security officers near the diplomatic compound and managed to escape onto the freeway. Witnesses watching from highrise blocks saw the gunman walking north up the highway and firing at a crowded bus, a truck, a motorcycle, a number of cars, and cyclists. 'He was calm, firing in bursts like a soldier on exercise. He was not acting like a madman,' said a witness on his way to work. Tian then turned the corner north of Beijing's International Post Office into a sidestreet. 'He appeared to be engaged in conversation in the side road,' said a western diplomat. 'A number of people got out of their cars, a tan sedan pulled away and I saw him fire at the back of it.' As the People's Armed Police and a group of plain clothes officers arrived, the gunman fled north onto a grassy area where he was gunned down. Those killed in the shooting included an old man exercising in a park, a young boy on the back of his mother's bicycle and at least one passenger of a taxi cab which the gunman attempted to hijack. The Iranian diplomat had been driving his four children to school in a Mercedes sedan when he was shot. A 14-year-old daughter was hospitalized with chest wounds, but his 13-year-old son, who was also shot, was recovering at home from a leg wound, the Iranian Embassy said. Diplomats in Beijing regarded the incident as a single event and were not taking further security measures. Two western embassies praised the work of China's police, saying they acted quickly and efficiently.

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