Chinese police shoot dead would-be bank robber, free hostage

BEIJING (AP) — Police in east China shot and killed a would-be bank robber on Tuesday and freed the hostage he had taken, in a rare case of violent crime in the tightly controlled country.

A notice on the Tai’an City Police Department’s social media account said Tuesday’s attempted robbery began around noon and ended in the suspect’s death about an hour later after the officers issued several warnings. No one else was injured in the incident, the notice said.

He gave no further details about the suspect, whether he was armed or the name of the bank, saying the matter remains under investigation.

Such crimes are very rare in China, whose ruling Communist Party maintains tight electronic surveillance of its citizens and prohibits private possession of firearms. Strict measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have tightened these controls by restricting travel across the country.

However, amid an economic downturn, protests have erupted among defrauded depositors targeting banks they accuse of wrongdoing, prompting swift and often violent responses from authorities.

Taishan in Shandong province is famous for its historical features, especially the ancient Buddhist pilgrimage site of Mount Tai which in pre-pandemic times drew hordes of visitors.