BEIJING – A series of small explosions killed one person, and injured at least 8 others, one seriously, in front of a major Communist Party building in the north-central Chinese city of Taiyuan Wednesday morning, reported police and state media.
The bomb blasts occurred around 7:40 a.m. near the Communist Party headquarters of Shanxi province, said Taiyuan police on its Sina Weibo micro-blog, Taiyuan is the capital of Shanxi, a coal-rich region, and lies 310 miles southwest of Beijing.
Photos on Sina Weibo and other social media platforms showed at least one man lying prone in the road, several vehicles with smashed windows and punctured tires, and scattered metal ball-bearings of different sizes, including some as big as a thumb-nail. From the ball-bearings, "it is suspected that improvised bombs exploded," said Xinhua, the state news agency.
Police said Party leaders had quickly rushed to the scene, and traffic on the affected road was back to normal by 10:30 a.m. An investigation is underway, said Xinhua, but authorities offered no clue as to who they suspect carried out the explosions.
Bomb attacks remain relatively rare but not unheard of in China, despite massive official spending on 'stability maintenance'. Wednesday's blasts come during a period of heightened security across China as the nation prepares for a closely watched Party meeting that starts Saturday in Beijing, and may give the green light to new economic reforms.
They also follow the suicide attack with a car nine days ago near Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Three members of an ethnic Uighur family from northwest China drove an SUV onto the sidewalk, killing two tourists and injuring 40, before crashing and setting the car on fire. Authorities have blamed a separatist organization fighting for the independence of the mostly Muslim Xinjiang region. Overseas Uighur groups urge caution before accepting Beijing's account and accuse China's government of decades of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
China's heavily state-controlled media, with a clear stress on political stability and positive news, likely won't dwell on the apparent attack. Thestate broadcaster CCTV only issued a short report on Taiyuan Wednesday morning.
Social media offered citizens more information and images, plus a chance to share their emotions. "My son goes on Yingze Bridge daily at this time, it scared me to death, just spoke by phone, he said the road ahead is blocked, he'll take a detour," Jue Yu, a 55-year-old Taiyuan mother, posted on Sina Weibo.
Other Internet users said the blasts highlighted how urgently the nation's rulers must make changes. "The reason for the Shanxi explosions is not clear, but one thing is for sure, it's a result of social conflicts that have constantly accumulated," wrote Beijing lawyer Fu Mingde. "In the new round of reforms, fairness and justice must be given the first priority," he said.
"Although the people who did the explosions are bitterly hated, some officials in the provincial party commission and government who are rigid in their heads also must reflect on the in-depth reasons behind this tragedy," posted Hai Kuo, a Beijing finance writer. "We must immediately carry out many essential and major operations on the political and economical system!"