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):
Beijing airport explosion: blog purported to belong to man who set off bomb claims he was beaten up & paralysed by Chinese police in 2005.— Mark Stone (@Stone_SkyNews) July 20, 2013
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:
"他拿着炸弹在出口嚷了很久都没有人理" Man held bomb up and cried for a "long time." Nobody cared.— Abe Sauer (@abesauer) July 20, 2013
他拿着炸弹在出口嚷了很久都没有人理 一直到把炸弹外面包着的白色塑料打开 周围的人发觉不对劲 保安才匆匆跑过来 保安过说了不到2句话 炸弹就爆了 Actually, he cried & nobody cared until he pulled out the bomb. 1/2— Abe Sauer (@abesauer) July 20, 2013
2/2 He said two sentences and then detonated.— Abe Sauer (@abesauer) July 20, 2013
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:
New angle of man in Beijing airport holding up bomb. People just walking past. pic.twitter.com/QCBok9JyqF— Abe Sauer (@abesauer) July 20, 2013
Photo said to be the moment the Beijing airport blast happened. Posted on Weibo (Chinese twitter). 1 man injured. pic.twitter.com/KpDN88zuaJ— Mark Stone (@Stone_SkyNews) July 20, 2013
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.
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