BREAKING: ‘Explosion’ outside US Embassy in Beijing, smoke fills the streets

A self-immolation attempt was reported to have taken place only hours before the explosion. It’s not clear if these two incidents are related.

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Reports have hit social media today of a large “explosion” taking place near the US Embassy in Beijing with smoke filling the surrounding streets.

Photos and videos from the scene that have been posted online show large crowds of people moving towards the smoke to see what happened. Uniformed security personnel are also seen to have cordoned off the area around the embassy, which occupies a large plot of land in the northeastern part of the capital.

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Beijing police have since issued a statement, saying that a 26-year-old man surnamed Jiang from the Inner Mongolian city of Tongliao set off an explosive device at the intersection of Tianze Road and Anjialou Road in Chaoyang District at around 1 pm today. The blast resulted only in the man injuring his own hand, the injury is not life-threatening.

Nearby officers responded quickly to the incident and sent the man to the hospital. At this time, his motives for setting off the explosion are not yet known. Unconfirmed Chinese media reports claim that the man attempted to throw the explosive device over the US Embassy fence.

A US Embassy spokesperson has released the following statement regarding the incident:

“There was an explosion at approximately 1pm today in the public space off the South East corner of the Embassy compound. According to the Embassy’s Regional Security Officer, there was one individual who detonated a bomb. Other than the bomber, there were no injuries.”

At a regular press briefing in Beijing on Thursday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson saidthat the explosion was an “isolated public order incident” and that Beijing police had handled the matter in a “timely and proper manner.”

The state-run Global Times has reported that earlier on Wednesday morning, at around 11 am, an attempted self-immolation took place outside of the embassy. It’s not clear if these two incidents are related. This information has also not yet been confirmed by the Chinese government.

Here are some clips circulating around Weibo and Twitter showing the aftermath of the apparent explosion.

Chinese authorities have been quick to order the scene of the explosion cleaned up and unauthorized reports about the blast removed from Chinese social media.

We will update this story as more information becomes available.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story misstated that the Global Times had reported that the explosion was a self-immolation attempt. This has been corrected.

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