Taiyuan man held in Shanxi blasts

Authorities say ex-con admitted setting bombs near Shanxi party offices to 'take revenge against society', but others see a potential scapegoat

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 November, 2013, 4:48am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 November, 2013, 5:59am

A Taiyuan man has been detained as a suspect in connection with a series of blasts that killed one and injured eight near the Shanxi provincial Communist Party headquarters, police announced yesterday.

The capture of Feng Zhijun , a 41-year-old ex-convict from Taiyuan's Xinghualing district, came just one day before top party leaders gather in Beijing for a key policy meeting.

Feng was taken into custody around 2am yesterday, Xinhua reported. Police seized "a large amount of criminal evidence" from his home, including hand-made explosives and a vehicle authorities said he used to set up the bombs.

The bombings in downtown Taiyuan came just 10 days after a fiery crash in Beijing's Tiananmen Square that left five dead and 40 injured. Authorities have called the earlier incident a terrorist attack orchestrated by a Uygur separatist group.

Officials have so far provided no official characterisation of the Taiyuan incident. The Ministry of Public Security said last night that Feng admitted he wanted to "take revenge against the society", without elaborating.

Feng confessed to the police, but the case was still under investigation, Xinhua reported. He had served nine years in prison for a 1989 theft conviction.

Security has been tight in the Shanxi provincial capital since the bombing. Passengers from the city of 4.2 million have been required to show their ID cards when purchasing tickets or boarding buses to Beijing, the Shanxi Evening News reported.

Petitioners are also facing tighter surveillance. Li Maolin, a long-time petitioner from the same district as Feng, said police had been stationed outside his flat 24 hours a day since the bombing. They usually left at night.

Li said Feng was not known among petitioners. "If the police want to find a scapegoat, a man known by few people might be the best candidate," Li said.

Chaos broke out around 7.40am on Wednesday when a bomb went off in the flowerbeds almost directly in front of the main entrance of the Shanxi party headquarters.

Within seconds, a minivan exploded several hundred metres away, according to witnesses. Residents opposite to the party headquarters told Xinhua they heard seven blasts altogether.

The security ministry said a deputy minister and a team of 26 forensic specialists were sent to Taiyuan to assist the local police investigation, Xinhua reported. A special task force has been formed by police officers of the provincial and city levels.

Xinhua has reported that the explosions were "suspected to have been caused by home-made bombs", with ball bearings and electronic circuit boards used in the devices found scattered about the scene.