China clamps down on parcel deliveries amid probe into bombings

Damaged vehicles and residential buildings seen after an explosion reportedly caused by explosives hidden in parcels, in China, on Oct 1 2015.
Damaged vehicles and residential buildings seen after an explosion reportedly caused by explosives hidden in parcels, in China, on Oct 1 2015. PHOTO: EPA

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Parcel deliveries in a southern Chinese county struck by a wave of fatal package bombings were halted as authorities sought information about a quarry worker identified as a suspect, state media has reported.

The move follows another blast Thursday morning (Oct 1) that struck a residential building near a government office in Liucheng country, in the region of Guangxi, the Southern Metropolis Daily said. More than a dozen explosions have killed at least seven and left 51 injured in the area since Sept 30, before a week-long National Day holiday, according to state media.

Guangxi regional chairman Chen Wu vowed an "all-out" effort to resolve of the case during a visit to Liucheng, the state-run Guangxi Daily said. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered instructions to local authorities and the Ministry of Public Security is assisting, the report said without elaborating.

Police are seeking information about a 33-year-old local man identified as quarry worker Wei Yinyong, the Southern Metropolis Daily said. It was unclear whether he was in custody.

While the official Xinhua News Agency reported hours after the bombings began Wednesday afternoon that a man named Wei was detained, more recent reports have described him only as a suspect. 

Places struck by the blasts included country government offices, a correctional facility, a hospital, a shopping mall and the dormitory of the local animal-husbandry bureau. Initial investigations showed the explosives were packed inside express delivery packages, Xinhua said.

- Deliveries halted -

Authorities in the county seat, Liuzhou - located about 550 kilometers (342 miles) northwest of Hong Kong - tightened parcel inspections while the state-owned mail company, China Post, halted all local mail deliveries until Saturday.

Police officials in neighboring Guizhou province also implemented tighter scrutiny over parcel deliveries following an emergency security meeting Thursday.

One case detailed by the Southern Metropolis Daily involved a van operator who said he was paid 180 yuan (S$40) by a person later identified as Wei to deliver a package. When the intended recipient asked him by phone to inspect the contents of the package, it exploded in his face, severing two fingers, the paper said.

- Violent acts - 

The bombings were not the only violent acts to come to light over the national holiday. At least 50 people were killed after a group of knife-wielding men attacked a coal mine in China's remote western region of Xinjiang, Radio Free Asia reported, citing local security officials. The dead included five police officers.

While the attack occurred Sept 18, the details were only now being reported. Xinjiang, which is home to a large population of Muslim Uighurs, has long been troubled by ethnic violence blamed by the government on militant separatists. Nine suspects are still at large.