Authorities believe five people were killed including the driver and two passengers. Also, killed were two tourists. Thirty-eight people sustained injuries, said the news website for the government of China Qianling.com.
After the vehicle crashed, authorities closed off and cleared the entire Tiananmen Square in the central part of Beijing. One of the two tourists’ killed was from the Philippines while the other was from China’s Guangdong province in the southern part of the country.
Authorities have started an investigation into the accident, reported the country state operated news agency Xinhua. The unusual way the incident took place and the manner in which the jeep was driven a long distance on the sidewalk, scattering and injuring pedestrians, led to quick speculation that the vehicle had been used to deliberately attack those in the area.
Photos that had been posted online showed fire engulfing the vehicle next to the historical bridges that lead today’s visitors under the Chairman Mao portrait and into China’s Forbidden City, which is the former residence for the Emperors of China.
Tiananmen is not just a large tourist draw, but also China’s political heart therefore; it is one of the country’s most sensitive locations.
Leaders of today’s Communist Party work and live close by. Major government and party events take place in an adjacent hall, where a women’s national congress was being held on Monday.
The square made famous in 1989 during protests over democracy, the Square still has its isolated, occasional protests, which the government authorities quickly squash using both plain-clothes and uniformed security officers.
Several areas of the square have fire extinguishers to stop the attempts of self-immolation.