A 26-year-old Chinese man set off a small explosive outside the US embassy in Beijing today, sending smoke into the air and injuring his hand before security officials rushed to the scene and took him into custody, police said.
Chinese police said no one else was injured in the incident, which took place near the area where visa applicants typically line up to enter the embassy for interviews.
The explosion was set off by a man from China’s Inner Mongolia region surnamed Jiang, police said, adding that his injuries were not life-threatening. Police did not indicate a possible motive.
Video clips that circulated on social media shortly after the explosion showed smoke in the air outside the embassy compound, and AFP journalists arriving at the scene found heavy Chinese security.
“We heard a rather strong explosion around 1:00 pm (0500 GMT) so we went out on the street to have a look, but very soon the police had cordoned off the area,” said a witness who declined to be identified.
Police quickly cordoned off the spot where the blast took place and China’s state-censorship apparatus moving swiftly to block searches for “US Embassy” on the popular Twitter-like Weibo platform.
AFP journalists said the visa office adjacent to where the blast took place appeared to have resumed operation not long after the incident. “I heard a loud ‘bang’, and then we all craned our heads to see what it was,” said a man surnamed Liu, who was waiting outside the embassy at the time.
“It seemed (police) reacted pretty quickly, like they were prepared.” The area where the incident took place is on the outskirts of Beijing and home to several embassies, including those of India and Israel.
China regularly sees cases of disgruntled individuals lashing out at society over various grievances or perceived injustices, often harming themselves or others. In one of the worst recent incidents, a bomb blast killed eight people and injured dozens of others outside a kindergarten in eastern China in June of last year. Police blamed it on a 22-year-old man who was suffering from health problems.