BISHKEK (Kyrgyzstan) • A van driven by a suicide bomber exploded after ramming through a gate at China's embassy in Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek yesterday, injuring three people, the authorities said.
"As a result of the explosion, only the suicide bomber terrorist died. Security guards were injured," Kyrgyzstan's Deputy Prime Minister Jenish Razakov told journalists at the scene.
Mr Razakov said the three wounded were Kyrgyz employees of the embassy and they have been hospitalised. Local medics said their injuries were not serious.
Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the attack. "Such attacks against a foreign embassy, which is a diplomatic compound protected under the Vienna Convention, cannot be condoned. We wish the injured a speedy recovery," a spokesman said in a statement.
Police sources said a Mitsubishi Delica van smashed through a gate at the embassy in the morning, then exploded in the centre of the compound close to the ambassador's residence.
A police source confirmed that the vehicle was driven by a suicide bomber, and described the incident as a terrorist attack.
China's Foreign Ministry condemned the attack as an "extreme and violent act", but refused to classify it as terrorism.
"We asked the Kyrgyz side to get to the bottom of this incident and hold whoever is behind this accountable," spokesman Hua Chun- ying told journalists.
The security service of the former Soviet Central Asian nation - which borders China - said an "explosive device" had been placed inside the vehicle, an official said.
Kyrgyz law enforcement sources put the strength of the blast at equivalent to up to 10kg of TNT, and one said body parts thought to be from the attacker were found several hundred metres from the blast site.
Residents in the area said the blast had blown in their windows and caused their houses to shake.
Police cordoned off the area as emergency services got to work. Law enforcement officials blocked traffic on one of the city's main highways and were checking vehicles. Employees from the Chinese and nearby American embassy on the edge of the city were evacuated, the Kyrgyz emergency service said.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS