Blast outside U.S. embassy in China injures suspect

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BEIJING (Reuters) – A bomb exploded outside the U.S. embassy in Beijing on Thursday, wounding the lone assailant, the embassy said in a statement, but police described the weapon merely as a “firework device”.

A security personnel removes objects near the U.S. embassy in Beijing, China July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The explosion happened in a public space off the southeast corner of the embassy compound, the embassy said. Beijing police said the suspect, a 26-year-old man from China’s Inner Mongolia region, had injured his hand.

Police did not provide a motive but China and the United States have been involved in an escalating trade dispute initiated by the Trump administration after the two sides imposed tariffs on $34 billion worth of each other’s goods.

A security personnel is seen near the U.S. embassy in Beijing, China July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Witnesses told Reuters that they heard an explosion near the embassy and felt tremors.

A police SUV appeared to have been damaged, with its back windshield missing, and was cordoned off by police before being removed, a Reuters witness said.

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Crowds were still queueing outside the embassy after the explosion and traffic was moving as normal in an area of northeastern Beijing that is home to numerous embassies including those of France, India and Israel.

Postings on social media showed pictures of smoke close to where people line up outside the compound for visa appointments. Some video clips and images were later removed.

Staff members at the Indian and South Korean embassies said they were unaware of any unusual incident and were working as normal.

An earlier report in the Global Times, a newspaper run by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, said that police had removed a woman who had sprayed herself with gasoline in a suspected self-immolation attempt.

Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by Nick Macfie

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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