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Homemade explosive set off outside US embassy in Beijing

BEIJING

A 26-year-old Chinese man set off a small explosive device outside the US embassy in Beijing today, 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 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.

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 (local time) 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.

The area where the incident took place is on the outskirts of Beijing and home to several embassies, including those of the United States, India and Israel.

Video clips posted online showed smoke in the air outside the diplomatic compound in the Chinese capital and police roping off a perimeter around the area, with witnesses saying an explosion had occurred.

The location appeared to be near where Chinese citizens typically line up to enter the US embassy for visa interviews.

Photos and videos emerging online of the explosion on Chinese social media site Weibo showed smoke billowing from the area with police creating a roadblock around a vehicle, Hong Kong Free Press said.

However, the details of the incident were not immediately clear as witness reports conflicted.

According to The Guardian, a woman was moved from the outside the embassy, after she started spraying petrol on herself.

The US Embassy declined comment and Chinese security forces could not immediately be reached.

The diplomatic area where the incident took place is on the outskirts of Beijing and home to several embassies, including those of the United States, India and Israel. (AFP)

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