BEIJING – Thursday saw an explosion near the US embassy in Beijing, but according to a spokesman for the embassy and eyewitnesses, only the bomber was injured.
The explosion occurred in a public area at the southeastern corner of the embassy, where people queued to apply for US visas. The embassy said local police responded:
Beijing police later identified the suspect as a 26-year-old relative named Jiang from Inner Mongolia, and said an investigation was under way.
The explosion took place around 13.00. Liang Zhuo, 21, said she was waiting in line to apply for a student visa when she heard a loud noise.
"It sounded like an exploding gas tank," she said. The air filled with white smoke, she said, and the people flew away.
"It sounded like a car tire," said Zhang Lisi, 47, who was waiting for her son, who was also in the embassy, applying for a student visa.
The word of an explosion near the embassy spread quickly in social media. Photos and videos published online showed thick smoke near the eastern edge of the embassy and security personnel gathered near a nearby intersection.
While rumors were circulating, the Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper reported that there had been an attempted self-immolation incident at 11:00 am in the same place that briefly caused confusion. It is still unclear whether this incident took place. The local police did not comment.
With the US school year, Chinese students are busy doing paperwork so they can start teaching in the fall.
Just over an hour after the explosion, determined candidates were back in front of the embassy.
Liang, on her way to California, said she would need her paperwork by tomorrow, so she heard the explosion, rushed off, and then hurried back to keep her place in line.
Luna Lin and Amber Ziye Wang have contributed to this report.