World

Beijing attack victim in critical but stable condition

The mother of a former U.S. Olympian was in critical but stable condition one day after being stabbed in what police in Beijing called an isolated incident.

The mother of a former U.S. Olympian was in critical but stable condition one day after being stabbed in what police in Beijing called an isolated incident.

The U.S. Olympic committee said on Sunday that Barbara Bachman of Lakeville, Minn., suffered multiple lacerations and stab wounds. She underwent eight hours of surgery.

Her husband, Todd Bachman, died from stab wounds in the attack by the assailant, who later committed suicide.

The Bachmans, both 62, are the parents of 2004 Olympic volleyball player Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman and in-laws of current U.S. men's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon.

Police investigating the attack, which occurred on Saturday, said the suspect was distraught over family problems. Chinese authorities unsettled by the attack during the Beijing Olympics tightened security at tourist spots around the city.

Wang Wei, vice president of the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, said Sunday that security in and around Olympic venues was already sufficient but would be increased at scenic spots around the city.

He said Chinese investigators and U.S. Embassy officials believe Saturday's attack was "an isolated incident" and suggested such random acts are difficult to prevent. There was no indication the assailant knew his victims had any connection to the games, according to Olympic and Chinese authorities.

"Beijing is a safe city, but unfortunately we are not immune to violent acts," Wang told reporters.

U.S. Olympic Committee president Peter Ueberroth concurred, saying on Sunday in his first public comments that the attack could have happened anywhere.

Elisabeth Bachman was with her parents at the time of the attack near the 13th-century Drum Tower but not physically injured. A Chinese tour guide suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was treated in a Beijing hospital.

Todd Bachman was chief executive officer for Bachman's, Inc., a home-and-garden centre based in Minneapolis.

Dale Bachman, the company's president and a cousin of the victim, said from Minneapolis on Saturday that the family had been looking forward to the China trip.

"When the attack happened, Barbara heard Todd," said Dale Bachman. "She turned and went back toward Todd, and that's when she was attacked. To me, that was a strong indication of her love."

U.S. President George W. Bush, in the Chinese capital to attend some Olympic events and meet Chinese leaders, thanked President Hu Jintao on Sunday for his government's handling of the attack.

"Your government has been very attentive, very sympathetic, and I appreciate that a lot," Bush said.

Shortly after the attack, the assailant, Tang Yongming, 47, leaped to his death from a balcony on the Drum Tower, eight kilometres from the main Olympics site, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Violent crime against foreigners is rare in tightly controlled China, and the assault occurred despite major security measures that have blanketed the capital city during the Olympics. A 100,000-strong security force plus countless volunteers have been deployed to protect against any trouble.

Police said Tang went through his second divorce in 2006 and grew increasingly despondent when his 21-year-old son started getting into trouble, Xinhua reported. The son was detained in May 2007 on suspicion of fraud, then received a suspended prison sentence in March this year for theft.

The U.S. men's volleyball team beat Venezuela on Sunday in their first action since the tragedy. Assistant Ron Larsen took over from McCutcheon as coach.

The women, including several players who played with Elisabeth Bachman at the 2004 Athens Games, won their first match Saturday.