Explosions rock Chinese Communist Party provincial headquarters

AFP-JIJI

A series of devices packed with ball-bearings exploded outside a provincial headquarters of China’s ruling Communist Party on Wednesday, police and reports said.

“There were several explosions caused by small explosive devices near the party provincial commission in Taiyuan,” the capital of the northern province of Shanxi, local police said on a verified social media account.

According to the police statement, one person was wounded and two cars were damaged.

“Public security officials are currently on the scene and working all-out to investigate the incident,” it added.

Ball bearings were seen scattered around the scene, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported. They are an ingredient used by bomb makers to increase the chances of blasts inflicting injuries.

“The accident is suspected to be caused by self-made bombs,” it said.

State broadcaster CCTV reported that some of the explosives detonated in flower beds at the entrance to the party provincial commission.

Chinese media company Caixin reported on its verified microblog that according to sources with knowledge of the matter, “major leaders of Shanxi, including those in charge of petition work and public security,” were holding an emergency meeting.

Pictures posted on China’s hugely popular Twitterlike social media networks showed vehicle doors peppered with small impact marks, and tires with holes punched through them. Other photos showed car windows blown out and debris scattered across the road.

Xinhua quoted two witnesses near the site who said they heard a loud noise, then saw smoke, followed by a minivan exploding.

Images showed several fire engines on a road, which had been blocked to traffic, and a large crowd on one side of the street.

Several photos that appeared to have been taken from inside a car showed billowing gray smoke rising above a city street.

About 20 cars parked 100 meters away from the site had been damaged, CCTV reported, and local firefighters and police were conducting rescue work and an investigation.

“Witnesses said that there were seven sounds of explosion that lasted several minutes and were very powerful,” Caixin reported.

“Some interviewees said that they could feel the power of the blast wave even 100 meters away and that the ground was shaking.”

Chinese authorities maintain tight control over public security in the one-party state and place huge importance on maintaining social order.

While protests happen regularly, incidents of targeted violence are normally extremely rare.

But the Shanxi blasts come a little over one week after a car barrelled into Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, killing two tourists and injuring dozens, with the three people inside dying after they set the vehicle on fire.

Authorities termed that incident a “terrorist attack” and have said that it was carried out by several people with links to a separatist group known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement from China’s far-western Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

The latest incident comes ahead of a highly anticipated meeting of top party leaders in Beijing this weekend, at which broad economic reforms are among the items expected to be on the agenda.