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Australian tourists hijacked in China -

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PETER CAVE: In China, ten Australian tourists are safe after being taken hostage by a man who
apparently had explosives strapped to his body.

They're being cared for by Australian consular officials in Shanghai after police shot the man

The incident took place on a bus in the city of Xi'an in north-west China.

The police had allowed the hijacker, identified as Xia Tao, to take the bus and one of the hostages
to the city's airport, but they stormed the bus and shot him when it stopped at a toll station.

I spoke to our China correspondent Stephen McDonnell from Shanghai and asked him what happened.

STEPHEN MCDONNELL: The city of Xi'an, a lot of tourists go there because it was the ancient capital
of China, home of the Terracotta Warriors. There are a lot of ancient Chinese relics there and so
people go there in groups quite a lot.

Now this group of people, ten Australians, were in the main square called the Drum and Bell Square
in the middle of the old town when a Chinese man with explosives, got onto their bus and said you
know, "I'm taking you all hostage".

PETER CAVE: What happened after that?

STEPHEN MCDONNELL: Well, soon after, nine of those people were released but he hung onto one of
these women - a 48-year-old woman from New South Wales and her translator as a hostage.

And basically he told police he wanted to go to the airport. Now they've said in a public statement
that they wanted to get him out of the middle of town with these explosives so they allowed him to
drive out of the middle of Xi'an and head towards the airport.

Now when he got to a toll-gate, a policeman shot and killed him and basically rescued the hostages
at that point.

PETER CAVE: Where are the Australians now?

STEPHEN MCDONNELL: Well, all ten Australians are safe. They've flown to Shanghai and they've met
Australian government officials here. We expect that later on today they'll leave to go back to

PETER CAVE: What do we know about the hijacker himself and his possible motives?

STEPHEN MCDONNELL: Well, nothing much has been released from the police about who he was or what he
was trying to achieve. But we do know though is that he was a worker who worked on the outskirts of
Xi'an in Yanliang district which is a place known as a military area where a military technology
and some weapons are produced. So he may well have stolen the explosives from there.

PETER CAVE: How are the Chinese authorities reacting given the sensitivity in the lead-up to the
Olympics about tourism?

STEPHEN MCDONNELL: Interestingly, the local police told the local media about this and that is how
it got out to the wider world. Then once foreign journalists started calling the Xi'an police and
asking for comments.

Well they wouldn't speak about it anymore and it seems that central government authorities or
somebody has told them not to speak and it could well be because there is some sensitivity that in
the year of the Olympic Games, tourists might be taken hostage. Although this is a very strange
thing to have taken place in China.

It really doesn't happen very much at all.

PETER CAVE: China correspondent Stephen McDonnell.