Man Held Over Gansu Blast

Authorities have arrested a man they say is responsible for bombing a bank in western China.
2011-05-13
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A victim of a blast at the Agriculture Credit Cooperative is taken to a hospital for treatment in Tianzhu, May 13, 2011.
A victim of a blast at the Agriculture Credit Cooperative is taken to a hospital for treatment in Tianzhu, May 13, 2011.
AFP

Authorities in the remote western province of Gansu are holding a man in connection with a homemade petrol bomb attack on a rural bank that injured nearly 50 people on Friday.

Police in Gansu's Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous county, 128 km (80 miles) from the provincial capital of Lanzhou, arrested the man on suspicion of igniting a bottle of gasoline and throwing into his former workplace, official media reported.

"Yang Xianwen, a former bank employee, allegedly ignited a bottle of gasoline and threw it into the Rural Credit Cooperatives in Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous County at around 8:30 a.m. on Friday, during a meeting of all the bank's employees," the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

A county government spokesman said Yang fled the scene after the fire started, but was caught by police at 5 p.m.

He added that 49 people were injured in the blast, 19 of them "seriously."

'So many injured'

A Tianzhu resident surnamed Zhang said he had seen around a dozen police cars heading for the scene shortly after the blast went off.

"A lot of police cars came by," Zhang said. "It was such a big incident; I think pretty much every rescue worker and police officer in the county must have come to the scene."

"They have sealed off the whole area and there are lots of police at the scene carrying out investigations," he added.

"The suspect probably harbored a grudge," Zhang said. "But ... so many people were injured."

Some people jumped from the window of the fifth-floor meeting room, while other were seen being carried away on stretchers with burns, Xinhua said.

Calls to local hospitals and clinics in Tianzhu went unanswered on Friday.

An official who answered the phone at the Tianzhu county government said Yang had been fired from his job for embezzling public funds, and had thrown the petrol bomb in a revenge attack.

"He was a former teller for the credit cooperative," the official said. "Last month, his contract was terminated because he was embezzling public funds."

"This is clearly a revenge attack."

Sichuan bombing

Last month, authorities in the western province of Sichuan arrested a Tibetan man accused of bombing a Chinese police station three years ago and of putting up banners calling for Tibetan independence.

Dhokar, 26, was seized on March 22 when he tried to visit a relative after evading capture by hiding in the forests and mountains near his home in Bathang county in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

However, Yang's name is typical of majority Han Chinese, and there was no apparent link to Tibetan unrest in the attack.

China in February executed two ethnic minority Muslim Uyghurs, Tuerhong Tuerdi and Abudula Tueryacun, for their alleged involvement in an Aug. 19 bomb attack in Xinjiang’s western Aksu city.

The incident left eight people dead, including two of the bombers, and 15 wounded after a man riding a three-wheeled vehicle threw explosives at a group of uniformed patrolmen. Four Uyghurs were arrested shortly after the attack.

State media characterized the cases as acts of terrorism and unrelated to longstanding ethnic tensions between Uyghurs and Han Chinese in the region.

Reported by Fung Yat-yiu for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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