40 officers in firefight with gang at hotel

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 May, 2002, 12:00am

One gang member was shot dead and a police officer wounded during a gunfight involving more than 40 heavily armed police in a darkened restaurant in Hunan province.

The shoot-out occurred last Thursday in a restaurant close to a primary school in the Yuhu district in Xiangtan, the Beijing Youth Daily reported yesterday. On Thursday morning, officers in the Yuhu police station received reports from the public that a group carrying guns and choppers was acting suspiciously in the district.

After making inquiries for several hours, the police discovered that the gang members were having dinner in the Jian Hong Hotel. The police sent a team of more than 40 heavily armed officers to surround the building.

The chief of the police team burst through the door and shouted: 'We are the police. You are surrounded', before the gang members slammed the door shut and turned out the lights.

Two of them opened fire on the police chief, wounding him in the chest. Officers returned fire, from the front and back of the building, which became full of shouts and screams.

The firefight suddenly stopped and an eery silence fell on the hotel, the report said. The silence was broken by a man screaming: 'Do not fire. We are surrendering.' The gang switched on the lights and threw down their weapons.

As the police entered, they found one of the gang dead and arrested 19 others. They seized four home-made rifles and dozens of choppers. The firefight left the hotel restaurant in chaos, with tables overturned and glasses and dishes shattered.

The injured officer was taken to hospital.

Police named the ringleader as Su Siping, 32, from Xiangtan. He and his associates were allegedly planning a new operation before the gunbattle broke out.

Authorities are still investigating the case and are checking if it was related to previous violent crimes in the province, the report said.