BEIJING — A 26-year-old Chinese man set off a small explosive device outside the US embassy in Beijing on Thursday, injuring his hand in the blast before he was taken into custody, police said.
Chinese police said there were no other injuries in the incident, which took place near where visa applicants typically line up to enter the embassy for interviews.
The US embassy is located close to other embassies, and in particular the Indian embassy. The Israeli embassy is close by too. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said there were no initial reports of injuries to Israelis.
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.
Earlier, the ruling Communist Party newspaper Global Times said police “took away a woman spraying gasoline on herself in suspected attempt at self-immolation” at around 11 a.m. There was no mention of this in the police statement.
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.
Further details about the incident were not immediately available, with police quickly cordoning 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.
China regularly sees cases of disgruntled individuals lashing out at society over various grievances or perceived injustices, often harming themselves or others.
AFP journalists said the visa office adjacent to where the blast took place appeared to have resumed operation not long after the incident.
just now. Large explosion just minutes ago at either the US or Indian embassy here in Beijing.https://t.co/1QAgZxBE7X
— Xah Lee (@xah_lee) July 26, 2018
China and the US are in the middle of a trade dispute, but America remains a hugely popular destination for travel, education and immigration for Chinese citizens.
Explosion outside US embassy in beijing pic.twitter.com/bjT108r4NY
— guyu (@guyu) July 26, 2018