Police work at the scene of explosion after the blast outside the U.S. embassy in Beijing, China, July 26, 2018.
Police work at the scene of explosion after the blast outside the U.S. embassy in Beijing, China, July 26, 2018.

Chinese officials have detained a suspect in the small explosion that occurred outside the U.S. embassy in Beijing Thursday afternoon.

Police said that a 26-year old man surnamed Jiang from China's Inner Mongolia region triggered the explosive device, which went off just outside the boundary wall in the southeast corner of the U.S. embassy compound. A police statement said a "firework device" caused the explosion. But the U.S. embassy described the device as a "bomb."

"Other than the bomber, no other people were injured and there was no damage to embassy property," the U.S. embassy said in its statement.

Security authorities did not provide a motive.

Government officials informally encouraged journalists to see it as an incident caused by individual grudge of the assailant.

Reporters take pictures at the site of a blast out
Reporters take pictures at the site of a blast outside the U.S. embassy in Beijing, China, July 26, 2018.

Videos posted on social media showed smoke spreading through an area nearly half a square kilometer around the U.S. embassy. At least two people who were present during the incident said they felt a tremor during the blast.

Although the incident appeared minor, it drew international attention because Beijing maintains strict security in the diplomatic neighborhoods of China's capital, and such attacks against high-profile targets are rare.

A woman is detained by security personnel outside
A woman is detained by security personnel outside the U.S. embassy in Beijing, China, July 26, 2018.

The government-backed Global Times cited witnesses in a report that said the police took away a woman who sprayed herself with gasoline in a suspected self-immolation attempt outside the embassy in the hours before the blast.

The recent trade actions against Chinese exports by the Donald Trump administration has resulted in a groundswell of adverse opinion against the United States, which have been amply reflected in the government backed media as well as the Chinese social media.