Smoke and confusion after explosion outside U.S. Embassy in Beijing

Society & Culture

An explosion was reported outside the U.S. Embassy in Beijing this afternoon, with witnesses describing smoke wafting from the main gate of the embassy, located near Liangmaqiao in Chaoyang District.

Ping’an Beijing 平安北京, the official Sina Weibo account of Beijing’s Public Security Bureau, posted a message about 30 minutes ago (at 2:52 pm) saying the explosion was caused by a “firecracker device,” and that police have detained a 26-year-old man surnamed Jiang from Inner Mongolia.

“There was an explosion at approximately 1 p.m. today in the public space off the South East corner of the Embassy compound,” a U.S. Embassy spokesperson told NBC. “According to the Embassy’s Regional Security Officer, there was one individual who detonated a bomb. Other than the bomber, there were no injuries. The local police responded.”

One source close to the scene says that the man tried to throw an explosive over the embassy’s fence, but failed and injured himself in the process.

The incident happened near the intersection of Tianze Road (天泽路) and Anjialou Road (安家楼路).

We first learned about the explosion from social media just after 1 pm. Lots of videos and images from the immediate aftermath have since between posted.

Global Times reports there was a self-immolation attempt earlier in the day. In a tweet, it said one witness “says police took away a woman spraying gasoline on herself in suspected attempt at self-immolation outside US embassy in Beijing around 11 am Thursday,” but immediately clarified in another tweet that “it is not proved yet the incident is related to an alleged explosion around the US embassy in Beijing later” (since there is a two-hour time difference between the events).

More updates as they become available.