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4 Chinese women among dead in US shooting

FOUR Chinese women were among the 13 people killed last Friday in a shooting spree by a lone gunman at an immigrant services center in Binghamton, New York.

Another Chinese national was injured.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi spoke to his United States counterpart Hillary Clinton on the phone yesterday.

"This was a very serious incident and the Chinese government is deeply concerned about it," Yang said.

"We grieve over the death of the Chinese nationals and other victims, and our condolences go to the injured people as well as the victims' families," he said.

China hoped the US would provide the victims' families with timely and sufficient assistance as well as help with getting visas for America, Yang said.

Clinton extended condolences to the Chinese victims and their families. She said the shooting was a tragedy and investigations were under way into the cause.

She pledged every effort would be made to offer medical treatment to the injured Chinese and to provide the victims' families with timely and comprehensive assistance to get visas to the US.

In New York, Deputy Consul General Shi Yong said he was already in contact with some of the victims' families and acting on their requests had already communicated with relevant departments in China so visits to the United States and other relevant issues could be dealt with.

Chinese consuls have already visited an exchange student from China who was among the wounded, he said. The consuls also visited the school where the student studied, and an insurance company so as to ensure the best possible treatment for him and to facilitate visits by his family.

The student, who sustained gunshot wounds to his arm and leg, is in a stable condition following surgery, Shi said.

Thirteen people were killed and four others wounded in the shooting spree.

Binghamton Mayor Matthew Ryan described the shooting as "a tragedy that affects many different people from many different countries and their families and friends."

Police are still reaching around the globe to notify families of those killed by 41-year-old Jiverly Wong, who was apparently upset about losing his job at a vacuum plant and about people picking on him for his limited English.

The process of notifying families has been slow because of the many different languages the victims spoke and their far-flung homelands.

Raini Baudendistel, executive director of the Crime Victims Assistance Center of Binghamton, said yesterday that her agency's counselors were "trying to provide emotional support and guidance and make referrals as appropriate."

She said victims' families were eligible for up to US$6,000 from the state crime victims board to help pay for funeral expenses.

It remains unclear why Wong, strapped on a bulletproof vest, barged in on the citizenship class and started shooting.

Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said: "He must have been a coward."

Wong had apparently been preparing for a gun battle with police but turned the gun on himself when he heard sirens approaching, he said.

Police and Wong's acquaintances portrayed him as an angry, troubled man who struggled with drugs and job loss and perhaps blamed his adopted country for his troubles. "He felt degraded because people were apparently making fun of his poor English speaking," Zikuski said.

Until last month, he had been taking classes at the American Civic Association.

Wong, who was born in Vietnam, moved to the US in the early 1990s.


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