China hunts suspects after Tiananmen crash

AFP-JIJI

Chinese police have named two suspects from the restive far-western province of Xinjiang after five people died in Monday’s car crash on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, reports and documents said Tuesday.

The incident — in which a sport utility vehicle drove along the pavement, crashed into crowds and caught fire at the capital’s best-known and most sensitive site — killed three people in the car and two tourists, according to Beijing police.

A woman from the Philippines was killed, according to Beijing police and a Philippine official. Police said the other visitor killed was a Chinese man and three other Filipinos and a Japanese man were among the injured, but no details about their conditions were released.

The square lies next to the Forbidden City, a former imperial palace and top tourist attraction, and was the location of prodemocracy protests in 1989 that were violently crushed by authorities.

In a notice to hotels, police identified two suspects and four car number plates, all from Xinjiang, in relation to a “major case” that occurred Monday, the Global Times reported.

Police also instructed hotels to watch out for “suspicious” guests and vehicles, said the paper, which is close to the ruling Communist party.

It carried the details in its English-language edition, but the Chinese version did not mention Xinjiang.

Security guards from several hotels in Beijing confirmed they had received a police notice.

A version posted online by 64tianwang.com, a Sichuan-based human rights news portal, gave the suspects’ names, identity numbers and registered residences, while urging hotels to report potential clues. Its veracity could not be confirmed.

Xinjiang is home to ethnic minority Uighurs, many of them Muslim. State media have reported several violent incidents there and a rising militant threat, but Uighur rights groups complain of ethnic and religious repression, while information is tightly controlled.

Police have arrested 140 people in Xinjiang in recent months for allegedly spreading jihad, and killed 22 Uighurs in August in an “anti-terrorism” operation, the official Xinhua News Agency reported earlier.