An explosive device was detonated outside the US embassy in Beijing on Thursday, sending smoke billowing into the air. A 26-year-old Inner-Mongolian man surnamed Jiang was apprehended, according to Beijing police.

Chinese police stand outside the US embassy in Beijing on July 26, 2018 following a blast near the embassy premises. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP.

An embassy spokesperson told HKFP that there were no injuries other than the suspect: “There was an explosion at approximately at 1pm today in the public space off the South East corner of the Embassy compound and according to the Embassy’s regional security officer there was one individual who detonated a bomb.”

Photo: Weibo.

Photos and videos of the explosion emerged online shortly after, as police created a roadblock around a vehicle.

Beijing police said a “suspected firecracker-like” device was detonated at the intersection of Tianze Lu and Anjialou Lu around 1pm.

The police said Jiang’s hand was injured but his life was not in danger. They apprehended him and sent him to hospital. No other people were injured.

Global Times also reported that, at 11am on Thursday, police took away a woman suspected of attempting to self-immolate outside the embassy by spraying gasoline on herself. It is unknown whether the two incidents are related.

Weibo users expressed confusion and shock. One said: “Heard a big noise while walking on the street after lunch, and then they started setting up police cordons near the American embassy.”

Another posted: “Just heard a loud noise, the delivery boy said there was an explosion at the US embassy.”

Posts on Weibo containing photos and videos of the scene accessed by HKFP shortly after the incident are no longer available.

According to the Global Times, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang was asked about the incident at a regular press conference on Thursday afternoon.

He said it was an “isolated security event” and added that “Chinese police are handling it in a timely and appropriate manner.”

The US embassy, Beijing. File photo GovUS.

The embassy is located in Beijing’s Chaoyang District and was opened in 2008 by then-US president George W. Bush.

The 10-acre compound features a bulletproof glass wall and is the third largest US embassy in the world.

Photo: Weibo.

The Israeli and South Korean embassies are also nearby.

Reporting by: Tom Grundy, Catherine Lai, Jennifer Creery and Holmes Chan.

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Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.