Eight people were injured in central Beijing yesterday morning when a car ploughed through a cycle lane at high speed.
The driver, 31-year-old Heilongjiang native Li Honghai , was intercepted and detained by police at the scene, just a few kilometres from the nation's political centre, the Zhongnanhai leadership compound.
Why Li decided to drive into the cyclists remained unclear. But a man who owned a nearby newspaper stand said the driver ran to two paramilitary police officers after leaving the vehicle, shouting repeatedly: 'Call police. Call police. Someone is trying to kill me.'
Beijing police said the injured, none of whom were in critical condition, were sent to local hospitals.
The rampage occurred in a cycle lane in Xidan, one of the busiest commercial areas in the heavily guarded capital, just before 10.15am.
Witnesses said the white Volkswagen Jetta sped along the side road, knocking down cyclists along the way. 'It just sped by and within seconds I saw three people already lying on the ground,' a security guard patrolling the area said.
The owner of a newsstand beside the cycle lane said: 'The car was too fast and I couldn't see clearly inside. But there was a man, a very old one, still on the top of the car while it was running like crazy. The old man was covered in blood. It was so horrible.'
She said she was alerted by the sudden noise.
'People were shouting and screaming and I looked up to see a white car driving like crazy on that road,' she said. 'I looked out to the left and saw one man and two women lying on the ground, their bicycles not far from them. I took out my mobile and called police. Many people were also dialling. Everyone was shocked and panicked.'
The owner of another newsstand, at the end of the side road, said the old man was still lying on the top of the car when it stopped before reaching an intersection.
The witness said the driver, who was in his thirties, did not appear drunk 'but looked very strange as if he was happy to see police and he kept saying, 'Be quick and take me'.'