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A man walks through an alley between residential houses in Hebei province, China in December 2017. Picture taken December 7, 2017. A group of men assaulted and robbed two television journalists while they were reporting on allegations of industrial pollution in the province in late January 2018. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

Reporters beaten, robbed while investigating allegations of pollution

February 8, 2018 2:32 PM ET

A group of men on January 25, 2018, assaulted and robbed two television journalists while they were reporting on allegations of industrial pollution in Hebei province's Quzhou county, approximately 260 miles southwest of Beijing, according to news reports.

The reporters, both from the local broadcaster Hebei Media Network, were attacked while on an undercover shoot on the premises of a business where it was alleged that a spray paint factory was operating under the guise of a goat breeding center, the digital media outlet Beijing Time reported. A group of men arrived and started beating the journalists; they took the journalists' recording equipment, cellphones, and wallets; they tied up one of the journalists and threatened to throw him into a well and drown him, according to the report.

The journalists, identified only as Chen and Li in reports, were later hospitalized but the severity of their injuries was unclear, according to Beijing Time.

Police returned the devices to their supervisors but the footage had been deleted, Beijing Time reported.

The Hebei Public Security Department and Environmental Protection Department began investigating the assault and the alleged pollution following an order issued by the county's party secretary Guo Xinyao on January 28. Local police told Beijing Time on January 30 that they have arrested eight suspects in connection with the assault and that they could not disclose more details.

CPJ was unable to reach local police despite repeated telephone calls.

CPJ called Hebei Media Network on February 5 for comment, and left a message with a woman who identified herself as the receptionist. The media group has not returned CPJ's request for comment.

According to the Epoch Times, the factory operation was dismantled overnight and abandoned.

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