Local residents questioned the official version of events on Tuesday after an electric bike exploded outside government offices in the northwestern Chinese province of Liaoning, killing one person and injuring five others.
A video clip sent to RFA showed a person on a moped, inching towards the gates of the Fuxin municipal government headquarters in Liaoning, close to a black, official-looking sedan car.
Seconds later, at around 2.30 p.m. local time on May 24, an explosion occurs, setting fire to the moped and to the back of the car, and sending the bike skidding across the tarmac, as a white cloud flashes out from the site of the blast.
Police said via social media that the bike rider had died on the spot, while those in the vicinity suffered slight injuries and were sent to hospital for treatment.
Police and emergency services are continuing their investigation, the post said.
But local people said they had doubts about the official narrative, which tried to paint the blast as an accidental explosion that occurred as a bike was passing by on the road outside.
“This was very probably a deliberate act, a bombing,” a former Liaoning police officer surnamed Gui told RFA on Tuesday. “It’s highly likely that somebody wanted to take revenge on society.”
Online comments also took issue with the official account that described an “accidental” explosion of an e-bike traveling along the road outside city government headquarters, as the video clearly shows the rider astride a nearly stationary bike, inching it towards the government buildings.
Some pointed out that if e-bike batteries are going to explode, they tend to emit smoke first, which didn’t appear on the video footage.
Security remained tight around government buildings in Fuxin on Tuesday, with partial roadblocks set up in the vicinity, and a strong police presence.
Wreckage and clothing fragments were still visible around the site of the blast.
A writer who is familiar with the behavior of explosives, who gave only his surname Lu, said the explosion was definitely caused by explosives, suggesting deliberate intent.
“That was definitely a blast caused by explosives,” Lu said. “How could an e-bike battery explosion carry so much power?”
“E-bikes are very unlikely to kill someone; they don’t have enough explosive force,” he said. “This was clearly … a suicide bombing.”
Suicides increasingly common
Suicides and attempted suicides have become increasingly common among China’s army of petitioners, people who dedicate themselves to winning redress for grievances against the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) despite ongoing illegal detention, beatings, and official harassment to persuade them to drop their complaints.
Some, having exhausted their options, take drastic measures as a last-ditch form of protest, jumping from high places, making bombs, or drinking pesticide in public places.
Petitioners sometimes pursue complaints about forced evictions, beatings in custody, and corruption linked to lucrative land sales for decades.
A petitioner surnamed Wang said she believed Monday’s blast could have been the work of a desperate petitioner.
“It’s pretty clear that this was premeditated,” Wang said. “I think he probably made a bomb and put it on the bike.”
“You can see the perpetrator slowing down on his bike and waiting for the black [official] car to come out, then you can see that the bomb hits the black car,” she said.
Reported by Qiao Long and Chingman for RFA’s Mandarin and Cantonese Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.