Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Five arrested in Tiananmen Square incident, deemed a terrorist attack

By Steven Jiang and Katie Hunt, CNN
updated 8:13 PM EDT, Wed October 30, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Five people detained in connection with deadly crash, police say
  • China censors images of jeep that plowed into Tiananmen Square, killing 5
  • Uyghur diaspora group says it's too early to assign blame

Beijing (CNN) -- Five suspects have been detained in Monday's deadly crash in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, which has been identified as a terrorist attack, Beijing police said Wednesday.

The attack -- in which five people died and dozens were hurt -- was "carefully planned, organized and premeditated," police said on their official Weibo account online.

Working with police in northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Beijing police captured the suspects, a spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said.

The spokesman, who was not named, said Usmen Hasan; his mother, Kuwanhan Reyim; and his wife, Gulkiz Gini, drove a jeep bearing a Xinjiang license plate into a crowd in the famed square at noon on Monday, killing two people and injuring another 40.

5 dead in Tiananmen Square car crash

Authorities had earlier put the number of injured at 38.

The jeep then crashed into a guardrail of Jinshui Bridge across the moat of the Forbidden City. All three of the jeep's occupants died when they set gasoline afire, the spokesman said. The other two fatalities were tourists; a woman from the Philippines and a Chinese man.

Police found gasoline, two knives and steel sticks "as well as a flag with extremist religious content" in the jeep, the police posting said.

READ: Who are the Uyghurs?

In addition, authorities found knives and a "jihad" flag in the temporary residence of the five detained suspects, it added.

Tensions between Han Chinese and the largely Muslim Uyghurs have sometimes turned violent.

READ: 5 dead after jeep catches fire in Tiananmen Square

A spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, a diaspora group, said Wednesday it was not clear that Uyghurs played any role.

"Every time something like this happens, authorities usually point fingers at Uyghurs," Alim Seytoff said. "The notice should not be taken as the evidence of Uyghur involvement in the incident."

Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong's Center for China Studies, said the incident would be considered a loss of face for Beijing's leaders, especially if it turns out to be related to Uyghur separatism.

"It was close to the Zhongnanhai party headquarters and, in terms of timing, it's on the eve of the plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party, so they don't want these rumors and speculation," he said.

Earlier this month, Chinese police said they had arrested 139 people in Xinjiang for spreading religious extremism online. The arrests came in the wake of riots that left 35 people dead.

Chinese media outlets that reported Monday's incident stuck to the bare-bones details published by China's state run Xinhua news agency.

China's state broadcaster, CCTV, showed no footage of the incident. Images posted immediately after the incident on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, which showed black smoke and a vehicle engulfed in flames, were largely deleted. Searches combining the words Tiananmen, terrorism and car crash were also blocked.

CNN broadcasts about the incident were blacked out inside China.

Lam said Chinese media outlets had likely received an official order to stick to Xinhua's version of events.

On Tuesday, the square was back to normal.

CNN's David McKenzie and Feng Ke in Beijing and CNN's Aliza Kassim and Tom Watkins in Atlanta contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Christians in eastern China keep watch in Wenzhou, where authorities have demolished churches and removed crosses.
updated 1:38 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Home-grown hip-hop appeals to a younger generation but its popularity has not translated into record deals and profits for budding rap artists.
updated 1:45 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Reforms to the grueling gaokao - the competitive college entrance examination - don't make the grade, says educator Jiang Xueqin.
updated 8:18 AM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
Beijing grapples with reports from Iraq that a Chinese national fighting for ISIS has been captured.
updated 10:00 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
CNN's David McKenzie has tasted everything from worms to grasshoppers while on the road; China's cockroaches are his latest culinary adventure.
updated 8:57 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
Beijing rules only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive.
updated 3:14 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
China warns the United States to end its military surveillance flights near Chinese territory.
updated 11:12 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
China has produced elite national athletes but some argue the emphasis on winning discourages children. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports
updated 1:13 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Chinese are turning to overseas personal shoppers to get their hands on luxury goods at lower prices.
updated 5:08 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Experts say rapidly rising numbers of Christians are making it harder for authorities to control the religion's spread.
updated 12:52 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
"I'm proud of their moral standing," says Harvey Humphrey. His parents are accused of corporate crimes in China.
updated 3:42 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
A TV confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities.
updated 12:10 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has snared its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
updated 3:12 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
updated 10:30 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
updated 5:11 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Is the Chinese president a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
ADVERTISEMENT