Three suspects have been detained over the lynching of a journalist who reportedly investigated an unlicensed coal mine in Datong of Shanxi Province, according to the Beijing News.
All three were miners, said a local police officer who refused to be named, adding that an 80-member special task force is involved in an intensive manhunt of those still at large, including the mine owner.
"Local police will break the case and reveal the truth within two or three days," said Gu Shengming, a spokesman for the city government of Datong.
The victim, Lan Chengzhang, who had recently been hired as a reporter for the Shanxi station of China Trade News, died from a cerebral hemorrhage on January 10, a day after he and two colleagues were assaulted by more than 20 people.
China Trade News editor-in-chief, surnamed Wang, said Lan was a temporary reporter and the paper would be unwavering in seeking justice for him.
"There are fake reporters coming to extort coal mines, threatening them with negative stories," an anonymous local press officer told the Beijing News, indicating that Lan could have been one of them.
But according to Li, one of Lan's relatives, his visit to the coal mine was cleared by China Trade News.
Gu, who declined to comment on Lan's status as a reporter, told Chinese news portal sohu.com: "It is an illegal mine, and was closed a long time ago by the villagers. The case will be looked into as a criminal case by the police and the truth will finally come out."
Lan's family members said China Trade News had not sent any condolences over his death.
Miners and reporters both featured on a list of China's most dangerous professions in 2006, ranking first and third respectively, according to Xinhua News Agency.
(China Daily January 20, 2007)