Police investigated over response to attack on female diners in Tangshan

Five police officials in the northern Chinese city of Tangshan are being investigated over their handling of a vicious attack on a group of women at a restaurant.

The provincial discipline commission of Hebei province said the five, including the district head of the Lubei police force, Ma Aijun, were accused of “seriously violating discipline and law”. Hebei province’s public security bureau announced separately on Tuesday that Ma’s deputy, Li, had been removed from his post.

The violence against four women at a barbecue restaurant on 10 June was widely condemned. CCTV footage circulated online showed a man placing his hand on a woman’s back as she shared a meal with two companions. After the woman pushed him away, the man struck her before others dragged her outside and dealt a barrage of blows as she lay on the ground. Another woman was knocked to the floor.

Two women were admitted to hospital. The authorities initially reported that two others received minor injuries, but it later emerged that the injuries were more serious than reported.

According to the state-owned Global Times, the suspects fled the scene and the police did not arrive until almost half an hour later. Nine men have since been arrested over the attack.

The attack – and violence against women more broadly – has been one of the most discussed topics in Cina in the past week or so. But as Chinese journalists have tried to report on it, some have complained of their trips to Tangshan being obstructed by local authorities.

On Tuesday Hebei’s provincial public security department said it had carried out “in-depth investigations into untimely police dispatch … and serious violations of discipline”. It admitted the incident had “caused a bad impact and aroused widespread concern”.

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