x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

'Deliberate' bus blasts kill two in China

Two people are dead and 14 injured in two separate explosions on public buses in a southwestern Chinese city.

A man inspects the damage to one of the buses blown up in Kunming. The blasts came amid a security clampdown ahead of next month's Beijing Olympics.
A man inspects the damage to one of the buses blown up in Kunming. The blasts came amid a security clampdown ahead of next month's Beijing Olympics.

Two bus explosions that killed two people and injured 14 in a southwestern Chinese city Monday were deliberate acts, police said. "According to preliminary investigations, the explosions were cases of man-made, deliberate sabotage," a spokesman with the Yunnan province Public Security Bureau said. The blasts occurred about an hour apart during the peak morning traffic rush in downtown Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, according to an earlier statement released by the city's Public Security Bureau.

The incidents add to tensions ahead of next month's Beijing Olympics, amid repeated warnings from the Chinese government about a dire terrorism threat for the Games. The government is also concerned about social unrest marring its efforts to portray the country as "harmonious and stable" ahead of the Olympics, as there have been violent protests in Yunnan and elsewhere recently. The first blast occurred about "about 7.00am" when the vehicle was at a bus stop, killing one person and injuring 10 others, the police statement said.

"The glass on both sides of the vehicle was all shattered and some of the seats were warped," the brief statement said. The second blast came about an hour later on the same road and killed one person, injuring four, according to the statement. "The cause of the explosions are under investigation," the statement said, giving no other information. Photos of one of the damaged buses that were posted on the Yunnan Daily website showed the vehicle's windows blown out by the blast and shattered glass on the road.

Kunming has a population of just over six million people and is about 2,100 kilometres southwest of Beijing. In May, three people died when a public bus in Shanghai burst into flames. Police blamed the incident on flammable liquids being brought aboard the vehicle but have provided no other explanation. China has dramatically tightened security in Beijing and throughout the country ahead of the Olympics. It says the main threats are posed by militants in China's restive northwestern Xinjiang region, where the authorities' tight control is widely resented. Officials also have hinted at possible attacks by Tibetan independence supporters following an outburst of violent unrest in March that was firmly put down by China. In the latest incident of social unrest in Yunnan province, more than 1,000 rubber plantation growers clashed with police on Saturday in a village about 400 kilometres from Kunming near the border with Myanmar. Police killed two people in the clash, which was triggered over a dispute about the sale of the crops, according to accounts by the police and a Hong Kong rights group. *AFP