CHINA> National
Xinjiang border police apologize to Japanese reporters
Updated: 2008-08-05 19:20

KASHI - Officials at the Kashi City border police in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the local foreign affairs department apologized on Tuesday to two Japanese reporters after they clashed late on Monday.

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Both sides expressed understanding to the incident after local foreign affairs officials and border policemen had a talk with the two reporters at around 11 a.m. Tuesday in Kashi.

The two reporters clashed with local border police when they tried to film a controlled restricted area at around 11 pm Monday night.

The reporters, identified as Masami Kawakita, a 38-year-old photographer with the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper, and Shinji Katsuta, a 37-year-old reporter for Nippon Television, were taken away for investigation after the clash.

"Journalists are forbidden in the area controlled by border police, but the two disobeyed the rules," said Eskar, administration secretary of the regional office of foreign affair in Kashi.

"But we are sorry for the incident and the damage to the equipment that belonged to the reporters," Eskar added.

The border police said they would pay for repairing the equipment and medical bills for the physical checks of the journalists when they returned to Beijing.

The two reporters had accepted the apology and compensation and had notified their headquarters.

The border police division in Kashi is a controlled military area, to which reporters are denied access, Liu Yaohua, head of the public security department of Xinjiang, said at a press conference held in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang.

"Overseas journalists are granted press freedom by the Chinese government. However, they should get approval from interviewees before they go on with the interviews," Liu said.
"The Japanese reporters violated the rules of China by forcing their way into a military area. The act was not well-justified, and they should accept the consequences," Liu said in response to a question raised by a Japanese news organization.

"I, however, apologize to the reporters, as the top regional public security official, for the clash they had with the border policemen."

The two Japanese reporters had gone to Kashi to cover a violent raid on border police on Monday that had killed at least 16 border police and left 16 others injured.

Of the 16, four are seriously injured, and two among them are still in critical conditions, Shi Dagang, party secretary of the Kashi region, told a press conference that commenced at 4:30 p.m. in Kashi.

The other 12 injured are now out of danger, he told reporters.

"We will go all out to save the injured policemen, and the best medical staff had been organized to treat them," Shi pledged.