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
Was Tiananmen Crash a Suicide Attack?
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)

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. (More Tiananmen Square stories.)

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