News / Asia

8 Suspects Sought Following Tiananmen Square Crash

Reports: Chinese Officials Suspect Xinjiang Link to Beijing 'Attack'i
X
October 30, 2013 2:55 AM
Reports from Beijing say Chinese authorities believe a car crash that killed five people in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on Monday was a deliberate act by people from the troubled region of Xinjiang, home to a mostly Muslim Uighur minority. A spokesman for the main exiled Uighur opposition group tells VOA it is premature to blame the incident on Uighurs. He also warns that Beijing may use this to justify a policy of suppressing the Uighur people - an allegation China denies. VOA's Michael Lipin reports

Reports: Chinese Officials Suspect Xinjiang Link to Beijing 'Attack'

Chinese police are looking for eight suspects in connection with a car crash that killed five people this week in Beijing's symbolic Tiananmen Square.

Staff at several Beijing hotels said Wednesday police have warned them to be on the lookout for eight men who appear to be from the troubled northwest region of Xinjiang.

Hotel staff say seven of the men have names commonly given to Uighurs, a mostly Muslim minority that has long complained of religious persecution. They say the other name was that of a majority Han Chinese suspect.

Details of the crash in Chinese media have been scarce, but foreign media have reported officials believe it was a suicide attack by people from Xinjiang.

Two days later, security remained tight in the capital. Though Tiananmen Square has been reopened, police appear to have increased their checks on license plates of cars in and around Beijing in response to the crash.

Site of Tiananmen Square crashSite of Tiananmen Square crash
x
Site of Tiananmen Square crash
Site of Tiananmen Square crash
The crash occured when a sports utility vehicle veered off a road, drove through a pedestrian area and crashed in flames near the main entrance to the Forbidden City - one of China's most heavily guarded public spaces.  The dead included the vehicle's three occupants and two tourists - a Philippine woman and a Chinese man. Thirty-eight bystanders were injured.

Xinjiang province, ChinaXinjiang province, China
x
Xinjiang province, China
Xinjiang province, China
China has long accused Uighur separatists and Islamic militants of carrying out a series of attacks in Xinjiang in recent years, in an effort to establish an independent state called East Turkestan.

Exiled Uighur leaders reject accusations of Uighur involvement in terrorism.  They accuse China's majority Han rulers of persecuting their people and turning them into a minority in their homeland.

A spokesman for main opposition World Uyghur Congress told VOA via Skype it is too early to conclude whether the Beijing incident was an attack.  Alim Seytoff also denounced the apparent targeting of Uighurs by Beijing police, whose notice identified four Xinjiang license plates allegedly used by the two suspects.

"I think it is really seriously unfair to single out the Uighurs [by] basically informing hotels and other places to search for several Uighurs and the car tags from Xinjiang, because lots of [Han] Chinese people from Xinjiang drive Xinjiang-tagged cars," said Seytoff.

It is not clear if the two suspects were among those killed in the sports utility vehicle or possible conspirators in a wider plot.  China analyst Christopher Johnson of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said he believes police are looking for more potential assailants.

  • A man installs a security camera  at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Nov. 1, 2013, very close to the site of a fatal vehicle crash in which five people died.
  • Soldiers and a policeman stand guard at Xinhuamen Gate, the main entrance of the Zhongnanhai leadership compound, the residence of Chinese President Xi Jinping, located in the center of Beijing, Oct. 31, 2013.
  • A paramilitary soldier patrols near visitors posing for souvenir pictures at Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, Nov. 1, 2013.
  • A man installs a security camera at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Oct. 31, 2013.
  • Vehicles travel along Chang'an Avenue as smoke raises in front of a portrait of late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Oct. 28, 2013.
  • Crowds react to a car accident at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Oct. 28, 2013. (Image taken from weibo)
  • Wounded people are seen after a car accident at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Oct. 28, 2013. (Image taken from weibo)
  • Security it seen after a car accident at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Oct. 28, 2013. (Image taken from weibo)
  • Chinese paramilitary police and uniformed police seal off pavement leading to Tiananmen Gate, following a car fire in Beijing, Oct. 28, 2013.
  • Police officers set up barriers in front of the giant portrait of the late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong as they clean up after a car accident at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Oct. 28, 2013.
  • A police officer walks in front of the giant portrait of the late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong as other police clean up after a car crash at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Oct. 28, 2013.

"The thing that's really interesting to me is the possibility that the Chinese authorities are concerned that there might be either follow-on or other attacks that might occur here, and that's got to be alarming for the authorities," said Johnson.

Johnson said China may be holding back from blaming Uighurs for Monday's incident because of the sensitivity of acknowledging that an attack happened in a place such as Tiananmen.  He also said the Chinese government may be waiting until it establishes an "iron-clad" case of culpability for the crash.

China denies mistreating any of its minority groups, saying they are guaranteed wide-ranging religious and cultural freedoms.

Some information for this report was contributed by Reuters.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sun from: Taipei
October 30, 2013 3:02 AM
Until when can the government of PRC repress such movements of minority races? They are claiming just for freedom. I wish all Han nationals, minority races, and other tribes in China can obtain at least freedom. Let's stop repressing other people (races and trives) and let's form an earthly paradise on this globe!

In Response

by: Anonymous
October 30, 2013 8:35 AM
repressing?give me an example,please。if you have no examples,please shut up。i hate rumor mongers like you


by: Abel Ogah from: Oju Benue state Nigeria
October 29, 2013 4:05 AM
Barbaric ! Whatever their greivances are, these attackers recorded more dead than the attacked.

In Response

by: Dive from: Beijing
October 29, 2013 10:05 AM
even if it like this,there still are so many governments treat them are "democracy fighter",so satire.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid