Was Tiananmen Crash a Suicide Attack?

Death toll hits 5; police eye Xinjiang region

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 29, 2013 10:26 AM CDT

(Newser) – The death toll following yesterday's SUV crash in Tiananmen Square has climbed to five, with two tourists—a Chinese man and a Filipina woman—dead along with the vehicle's occupants. "It looks like a premeditated suicide attack," says a Reuters source. If so, it would be the first to have taken place so close to Chinese government headquarters. "It was no accident," notes a second source. "The three men had no plans to flee from the scene." One witness tells Reuters a banner bearing black lettering was attached to the rear of the car, and sources say the vehicle's occupants are believed to have lit the SUV on fire using a flammable material.

The car traveled 1,200 feet before coming to a stop, avoiding trees, street lights, and at least one security checkpoint along the way. Authorities last night sent a notice to hotels in the city aimed at tracing the recent movements of two suspects with Uighur names, reports the AP. Radicals among the Muslim Turkic Uighurs have been fighting a low-intensity insurgency against Chinese rule for years, and while there have been "a lot of bombings carried out by Uighur groups ... none of them as far as I know have involved suicide," says an expert in Hong Kong.

A tourist holds up a Chinese flag as he poses for photos near a Chinese paramilitary policeman on duty in front of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong's portrait on Tiananmen Gate.
A tourist holds up a Chinese flag as he poses for photos near a Chinese paramilitary policeman on duty in front of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong's portrait on Tiananmen Gate.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
An armored Chinese paramilitary vehicle is stationed near Tiananmen Square across the street from Tiananmen Gate, the site of the incident.
An armored Chinese paramilitary vehicle is stationed near Tiananmen Square across the street from Tiananmen Gate, the site of the incident.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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