|Beijing hunts for Uighur suspects over Tiananmen car crash
Police investigating the apparent attack in Tiananmen Square searched for information on two ethnic Uighur minority suspects, a hotel employee said, a day after a sports utility vehicle plowed through a crowd and crashed, killing five people and injuring 38.
Two bystanders, including a Filipino woman, also were killed when the SUV veered inside of a barrier separating a crowded sidewalk from a busy avenue and then drove toward Tiananmen Gate, which stands opposite the sprawling Tiananmen Square, AP reports.
The 38 injured were among the crowds in front of the gate, where a large portrait of Mao Zedong hangs near the southern entrance to the former imperial palace. Three other Filipinos and a Japanese man were among the injured, police said.
Zhao Fuzhou, a security official at Beijing's Xinjiang Dasha hotel, said police had circulated a notice searching for information about two suspects with Uighur names. Unconfirmed copies of the notice also were widely circulated online.
One of the men, identified in the notice as Yusupu Wumaierniyazi, was listed as living at the address of a town in Xinjiang in which 24 police and civilians and 13 militants were killed in an attack on June 26.
Beijing police said on their microblog that they were taking “effective measures to ensure the capital's safety and stability.''
A police statement said the vehicle had burst into flames after crashing at about noon Monday into a guardrail for one of the ancient stone bridges leading to the gate. The adjacent Chang'an Avenue was closed as police and rescue services converged, but police said traffic was restored just over an hour later.
The incident had every appearance of being deliberate, since the driver apparently jumped a curb and traveled about 400 meters to the spot where the car was said to have caught fire. Along the way, it avoided trees, street lights and at least one security checkpoint.
Attendants and nearby concession stand vendors who were asked about the incident all said they were not clear on what happened. Such employees are generally understood to be part-time police informants.
Just west of the square lies the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China's legislature, while many of China's top leaders live and work just a few hundred meters away in the tightly guarded Zhongnanhai compound.