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13 Jan 2013
Journalist Casualties: 0
Media Staff Casualties: 0
Under Investigation: 0
Zhao Xi, a CCTV reporter, was attacked and received head injuries covering a story on illegal sewage treatment at a paper mill in Hunan [in south China] on Wednesday night, the Beijing News reported.
The Pingjiang government said two men suspected of the assault had been detained, while three police officers were fired.
Zhao, together with four staffers from All China Environment Federation (ACEF), visited Ng town, Pingjiang county, at 10pm to take photos of the paper mill's illegal treatment of sewage.
The team were inspecting the factory's sewage outfall, which flows directly into the Miluo River.
Zhao recalled being surrounded by a dozen paper mill employees after taking photographs around 11pm. The men threatened Zhao's team, saying: "If you dare to leave, the men and their car will be thrown into the Miluo River to feed the fish."
They were then beaten up. The paper mill employees also tried to seize their camera.
Zhao was struck in the head with a torch while trying to protect the camera.
Both Zhao and a lawyer from ACEF tried calling the emergency hotline, 110. However, they could not get through for 10 minutes, because the line was busy.
Finally. Zhao received a call from police who said: "What are you reporters doing at this time of the day?" Police officers arrived at the scene after an hour.
Zhao is in hospital under observation.
Pingjiang County Committee Propaganda Department spokesman said on Thursday that a task force had been established to investigate activities at the mill. The local government will also examine the slow police response to the incident and look into lax environmental regulations. The Minister of Propaganda Xu Xinqi visited Zhao in hospital.
Source: BBC Monitoring / South China Morning Post website