Officer showing seized guns wounds journalists

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 July, 2008, 12:00am

Three journalists were wounded when a police officer in Sichuan accidentally fired a gun at reporters.

The incident happened during a news conference on the seizure of illegal guns at the police bureau in Nanchong on Thursday, reporters and state media said yesterday.

After the officer briefed journalists about the haul of weapons seized in a recent gun-control campaign, some asked him to show them the seized guns, a colleague of one of the injured reporters said. The officer picked up some homemade handguns to allow the media to take pictures.

Believing the guns were not loaded, he pulled the trigger of one.

But the gun went off, spraying pellets at the journalists.

Three of them who were taking pictures were struck, the reporter said.

Colleague Su Dingwei, a photographer for the West China Metropolis Daily, suffered the most serious injuries. He was rushed to hospital for an emergency operation.

'Su Dingwei was hit in several parts of his body by more than 20 pellets,' his colleague said. 'The main wounds are to his left ankle, crotch and chest.'

Su was in a stable condition last night.

'This was an accident,' the reporter said. 'The police bureau sent some officers to the hospital, led by the officer who opened fire, to apologise to Mr Su. The [city] leaders also expressed their sympathy and regret.'

It was not clear if their apologies were accepted.

The others injured were Wang Xiaofeng, of the Nanchong Daily, and Sichuan News Net's Zhang Yicheng , the reporter said. Their injuries were not serious.

The Beijing News said 13 journalists had been invited to the conference. Zheng Chongjun , deputy head of the police bureau's political division, told the daily that officers would not normally show seized weapons to reporters, but that several of those covering the event had asked to see them.

The handgun was made by a local farmer, the report said. Mr Zheng told the newspaper that the officer did not fire directly at the reporter.

Police have ordered an investigation into the accident.