A knife-wielding Chinese man has killed the male relative of a coach for the U.S. Olympic men's volleyball team at a popular tourist site in Beijing.
Tang Yongming, 47, attacked the American man and woman at the 13th century Drum Tower which lies just three miles from the main Olympics site.
Tang then committed suicide by throwing himself form the second floor of the tower.
The female relative of the coach was seriously injured in the attack, as was a female Chinese tour guide.
The attack occurred just hours after competition started for the Olympic Games, a source of national pride for China.
Police blocked off streets leading to the Drum Tower immediately after the attack and cordoned off the area with yellow police tape. [yellow brick road]
Security officers were examining the scene on the tower and below.
'They are deeply saddened and shocked,' a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, said of the volleyball team.
Officers investigate the spot where the man was killed [note 32, there are 302 gold medals available at these games by the way]
The government has imposed unprecedented security measures in the capital to prevent protests or other trouble.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman said: 'We are aware of the reports of the accidents suffered by two American citizens.
'We are working with the Chinese authorities to find out more on the cause of the incident.'
The Americans 'were not wearing apparel or anything that would have specifically identified them as being members of our delegation' or as Americans.
He said that it was 'too early to say' whether the U.S. delegation or athletes will require additional security.
Jennie Finch, a member of the U.S. softball team, said her heart skipped a beat when she heard about the attack, but was undaunted.
'I'm here with my husband and son, so it's not easy but we're living our dreams and we're not going to live in fear,' she said.
A White House official said U.S. President George Bush, who is in Beijing for the start of the Games, was aware of the attack.
'The President has been informed and his heart goes out to the families of the victims,' a White House official said.
'The White House and U.S. Embassy have offered whatever assistance the family needs. U.S. officials have also been in touch with Chinese authorities on the matter.]
A U.S. embassy spokeswoman said diplomats had been dispatched to the Beijing hospital where the surviving tourist and the local tour guide had been rushed shortly after noon.
Attacks on foreigners in China are extremely rare. A Canadian model was murdered last month in Shanghai, but police said that was because she stumbled onto a burglary.
In March, a screaming, bomb-strapped hostage-taker who commandeered a bus with 10 Australians aboard in the popular tourist city of Xi'an was shot to death by a police sniper.
Shanghai and Beijing are still safer than most foreign cities of their size.
Punishments for crimes against foreigners are heavier than for crimes against Chinese, and police-linked neighbourhood watch groups are highly vigilant.
Chinese are not allowed to own guns.
Even so, the U.S. government now warns Americans against muggings, beatings and even car-jackings, especially in the nightlife and shopping districts of large cities.
Built in the 13th century, the Drum Tower is one of the few ancient structures still in Beijing, and was used to tell time in imperial China for the city, using drummers who pounded their instruments to mark the hours.