Suspected Bomb Blasts Hit Northern Chinese City

One person killed and eight injured in city of Taiyuan, days after an attack on Tiananmen Square throws spotlight on China's domestic terrorism

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Liu Guoliang / Xinhua / AP

A photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency shows smoke billowing after explosions in Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, China, on Nov. 6, 2013

Around half a dozen small “suspected homemade bombs” detonated near a Communist Party office in the coal-dusted Chinese city of Taiyuan early on Wednesday, Nov. 6, according to state newswire Xinhua.

The official news agency said that one person had been killed and eight others injured, one seriously. A photo of a man lying on the street has circulated on Chinese social media, along with images of ball bearings that were scattered on the ground. State broadcaster CCTV reported that 20 vehicles were damaged.

Xinhua reported the Taiyuan explosions, which occurred around 7:40 a.m., with remarkable alacrity — in contrast to the news blackout that followed the Oct. 28 incident in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, when an SUV drove through crowds of tourists and erupted into flames, killing two bystanders. That attack, in which the three occupants of the vehicle also died, was later blamed on members of the Uighur ethnic minority, who are concentrated in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. Government officials described it as “terrorism” masterminded by Muslim radicals.

As China’s income gap widens and the Internet allows for stories of official graft and abuse of power to circulate, instances of social unrest — sometimes violent — have proliferated. Hardly a month goes by without some aggrieved individual blowing himself up or inflicting harm on others through homemade devices. Earlier this year, a man who was disabled after being beaten by security thugs in southern China detonated a small bomb in Beijing’s airport. He was the only one who suffered major injuries from the explosion, and his case elicited online support from Chinese who wondered why he felt violence was the only way to publicize his plight.

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