There has been reports of an explosion at China’s Beijing International Airport according to news sources on Twitter.
The explosion is believed to have taken place at the airport’s Terminal 3 building in the arrivals hall. One person is said to have been killed according to a Chinese media report.
Xinhua news agency reported witnesses as hearing a loud bang from the airport’s arrival lounge.
It is not yet known which group or individual is behind the blast. The People’s Republic of China is fighting against Uighur separatists in the north-western Xinjiang province, home to a Turkic minority who have accused the Beijing government of oppressing their culture and religion, as well as allowing wholesale migration of ethnic Han Chinese into the area, making the Uighurs a minority in their land.
However by 12:38 pm BST it has been reported by the BBC that a man is being treated at a Beijing hospital after allegedly detonating a device in the airport’s grounds.
Smoke from the explosion at Beijing’s International Airport as observed by a witness.
According to one traveller, identified only by their Twitter handle ‘@hutuzaixian’, a disabled man in a wheelchair was spotted clutching an object. He detonated it in the arrivals lounge. The man was seen waiting around on his own, holding an object which appeared to be homemade and wrapped in white plastic. He was not near other passengers at the time and only security personnel were present. The bomb exploded quickly, according to @hutuzaixian, an eyewitness who tweeted pictures of the bomber on Twitter. The picture, which was originally posted on the Chinese social network Weibo, has not been independently verified. Other accounts say that the man was chanting shortly before he activated the bomb.
The explosion took place shortly before 6:30 am local time, reports the South China Morning Post.
A report from Reuters via India’s DNA has stated that the device may have been powered using “black gunpowder”, an easily sourced product in China commonly used for demolition and fireworks. Passengers were evacuated by police after the explosion rocked the terminal. One witness, Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt of the International Crisis Group think tank, reported seeing a “huge explosion followed by panic, smoke and dust at Terminal 3….Lots of excitement, police (were very) angry, shouted crowds back and told everyone to leave,” she added.
At 1:00 pm British Standard Time, Russia Today reported that the bomber had been identified as Zhongxing Ji. He is believed to originate from Shandong province, an affluent part of the country with no known activities around political unrest. His motive is as yet unknown, but a report from Russia Today said that Ji had set off the explosive device as a one-man protest against police who allegedly subjected him to a vicious beating that gave him permanent injuries that required a wheelchair, according to Twitter users.
The bomber holding the device in plastic bag (pictures from eyewitnesses). Medical staff immediately arrived at the scene. The man’s wheelchair is seen lying on its side in one photo.
A letter purported to be from the bomber has been leaked, according to Russia Today. Its content has not yet been revealed as yet.
Latest reports suggest no casualties, other than the bomber.
State-owned television network CCTV has said that no deaths have been reported, and that no flights in and out of Beijing have been affected. Order has been restored throughout the Airport.
Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) is situated about 20 miles from the centre of the capital. Since last year it has become the second busiest in the world in terms of passenger traffic. It is also known as the “China Gateway” and is the epicentre of China’s rapidly increasing tourism and foreign travel industries.
The airport’s Terminal 3 was built to handle extra passenger numbers for the 2008 Olympic Games, which Beijing hosted. It is the fifth-largest building in the world by area and handles approximately 19,200 luggage items an hour. Beijing airport’s three terminals see 82 million people through their doors every year.
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