BEIJING (REUTERS) - Three people were killed and many injured on Monday, police said, when a car ploughed into pedestrians and caught fire in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the site of 1989 pro-democracy protests bloodily suppressed by the government.
Police said on their official microblog that the car veered off the road at the north of the square, crossed the barriers and caught fire, injuring "many" tourists and police.
Three people in the car died, they said.
A Reuters witness said he saw fire engines, an ambulance and numerous police cars heading in the direction of the fire, which sent a plume of black smoke into the sky.
The main road through the square was briefly closed. Police also evacuated the square, a popular tourist attraction.
The car crashed close to the main entrance of the Forbidden City, where a huge portrait of the founder of Communist China, Mao Zedong, overlooks the square.
A foreign tourist who was on the square and asked not to be identified said she heard an explosion followed by a fire.
Tiananmen Square is always under heavy security due to its proximity to the Zhongnanhai compound of the central leadership and the Great Hall of the People, where the country's largely rubber stamp parliament meets.