Wed, Jul 23, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Chinese police on high alert following deadly bombings

AGENCIES , BEIJING

One of China’s largest cities remained tense yesterday after two people were killed in bus explosions, state media reported, with authorities yet to explain who was behind the blasts.

After the powerful blasts on Monday on two public buses in downtown Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, police beefed up security at airports and highways, the China Daily said.

“It has reminded us beyond any doubt that terrorist crime can strike very close to home,” Bai Yansong, an influential political commentator, told state TV. “It’s not enough that the state [to] take strong preventive measures — we ourselves may also have to strengthen consciousness about prevention.”

The explosions have come at the worst possible time for Chinese authorities, as they strive to extinguish what they say are dire terrorist threats before next month’s Olympic Games in Beijing.

Fourteen people were injured in the blasts, including a woman who had sustained life-threatening injuries and was being treated at a local intensive care unit.

“Monday more people took taxis, but today they’re back on the buses,” said an employee at Kunming Tourist Reception Taxi Co, identifying himself only by his surname Zhang as he spoke to AFP by telephone from Kunming.

State media reported that police had been able to obtain certain clues about the culprit behind the explosions in the city of six million.

Investigators said the people behind the blasts had used ammonium nitrate, the China Daily reported.

The paper also quoted a witness on one of the buses targeted in the explosions as saying “a short man” got off just before the blast, leaving behind a black plastic bag.

Police have yet to give a full explanation for the blasts, other than to say they were deliberately set off.

Meanwhile, Chinese police were investigating a bizarre text message warning residents of Kunming to avoid buses hours before two blasts on Monday, local media reported.

Some residents received phone text messages in the early hours of Monday, the Southern Metropolis Daily said, presumably written on Sunday.

“The general mobilization of ants ... [I] hope citizens receiving this message will not take bus lines 54, 64 and 84 tomorrow morning,” the newspaper quoted the message as saying.

The explosions, which came within one hour of each other, hit two line 54 buses close to each other, blowing holes in the side.

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