In the early hours of June 10, several women were repeatedly kicked and hit by a group of men. He sent shockwaves to China after videos of the incident leaked online.
A day after the attack, police in Tangshan issued a statement saying two women had been hospitalized with “no danger to life” and were in “stable condition”. No other information was provided. The victims, as well as their friends and family, also remained silent.
On Tuesday, 11 days after the attack, the Public Security Department of Hebei Province, where Tangshan is located, issued a lengthy statement saying that two of the 31- and 29-year-old women had been “hospitalized in the General Treatment Unit and their conditions.” The other two victims, aged 24 and 29, did not need to be hospitalized, he added.
According to a forensic report quoted by police, the hospitalized women received “minor injuries”, while the other two suffered “minor injuries”.
In an apparent attempt to disprove such rumors, Hebei police said in a statement that the suspects fled the scene at 2.47 a.m. – seven minutes after the attack began; and at 2.55 am the four victims were sent to hospital by ambulance. Local police arrived at the restaurant at 3:09 a.m., about half an hour after receiving a public call at the start of the attack, according to the statement.
“So there are no photos or videos. Journalists are not allowed to interview (victims) and only you can post information yourself, “said a Weibo user, a Chinese Twitter-like platform, citing a lack of access to journalists.
“A city without trust – do we dare to trust the report of injuries? And how reliable is this police statement?” added the user.
Following the attack, Chinese authorities sought to stifle discussions on gender-based violence and shift the focus to violence by local gangs.
State media reports have largely focused on swift police action to arrest suspects and a two-week “thunderstorm” campaign announced by Tangshan authorities to fight organized crime. Photos and videos of police officers – some armed with weapons – standing guard behind customers at outdoor barbecue restaurants, similar to where the incident took place, flooded social media.
In a statement Tuesday, police said four of the suspects had traveled to Tangshan in the eastern province of Jiangsu three days before the attack to conspire with the other five to “engage in illegal online gambling and money laundering.” Several of them had criminal records for crimes ranging from illegal detention to intentionally injuring others, the statement added.
Police also launched an internal investigation into whether the local police department did not respond in a timely manner and violated any laws and regulations in law enforcement. A deputy chief of the local police department has been fired, the statement said.