A small explosion has rocked a public area near the US Embassy in Liangmaqiao, leaving the perpetrator injured.
Beijing Police, on their official 平安北京 account on Weibo, said the suspect, a 26-year-old male surnamed “Jiang” from Inner Mongolia, injured his hand after setting off a “firecracker device” at the intersection of Tianze Road and Anjialou Road at around 1pm local time. Police cordoned off the blast site and blocked traffic past the embassy and nearby roads, but the area was opened shortly afterward.
State media CGTN reported the explosion happened near the visa office of the embassy, which was evacuated shortly afterward the incident. However, an embassy spokesperson told CNN that the perpetrator “detonated a bomb,” and that “there were no injuries and damage to embassy property.”
There were earlier reports of a woman who had been taken away by police after “spraying gasoline on herself” in a suspected “self-immolation” attempt outside the embassy around 11am local time. A reporter for Global Times said a “scent of explosives lingered on for half an hour.”
It was unclear if the two incidents were linked and there is no information yet regarding the Jiang’s motivation although local police said they have already launched an investigation. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a press conference that the explosion was an “isolated case” that had been dealt with by the police in a “timely and prompt manner”.
Initial reports and videos at the scene quickly circulated on Weibo but were censored within several hours after the incident.
The US Embassy is situated in the high-security Liangmaqiao diplomatic area, which also houses several embassies from India, Brunei Darussalam, France, Israel, among others.
Such targeted attacks are extremely rare in Beijing. Early in 2013, a bomber in a wheelchair injured a bystander in Beijing Capital International Airport’s Terminal 3 after he was restricted from handing out protest fliers. Later that year, 4×4 plowed into bystanders in Tiananmen and burst into flames, killing five people including the three attackers and injuring 39 others.
With additional reporting from Tom Arnstein of the Beijinger