Why an Angry Man Set off a Bomb at a Beijing Airport

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A handicapped man was shouting inside a Beijing airport on Saturday and no one bothered to pay attention to him. And then he pulled out a bomb, and still no one noticed. The bomb went off, injured no one, and then finally a crowd gathered. 

This is what we know from state media reports: Ji Zhongxing, a 34-year-old man confined to a wheelchair from Shandong, set off a small explosive device he was holding around 6:24 p.m. local time at the Beijing Capital International Airport. He was just outside of the international arrivals exit of the airport's busy Terminal 3 when the explosion happened. No one else was hurt, but he's being treated for injuries.

So the next questions is, why would this man go so far as to attempt blowing himself up in the middle of an airport? And it appears the move was, perhaps unsurprisingly, an act of protest. A blog that supposedly belongs to to the man says he was beaten with a pipe and paralyzed by Chinese authorities in 2005. He's been confined to a wheelchair ever since. You can even read the blog post right here (if you can translate it):

Read Chinese? This is reportedly the bomber's posted story of beating in 2005. Police hit him in head w/ "pipe" pic.twitter.com/Vmvv2pyqDd

— Abe Sauer (@abesauer) July 20, 2013

Pictures and eye-witness accounts popped up on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, and they paint a pretty desperate scene. The man was allegedly shouting from his wheelchair and the busy airport passengers paid him no notice. Until he pulled out the bomb, of course: 

Unfortunately the reaction of those busy airport passengers after he set the small bomb off probably wasn't what he was looking for. Instead of helping him, or showing concern for his well being, most people gathered around to document the scene on Weibo. "Since there was no second explosion, many people took out their phones and gathered near the explosion spot to take photos," an eyewitness told the Associated Press. But they also led to these amazing pictures from before, during, and after the blast: 

So this man who was beaten by authorities pulled out a bomb in the middle of an airport and no one noticed until it finally went off. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.