A suspected suicide bomber crashed a car through the entrance of the Chinese Embassy in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek, detonating a bomb that killed the attacker and wounded three embassy employees.
China denounced the attack and appealed to Kyrgyz authorities to identify and harshly punish anyone involved. No group claimed responsibility.
The Central Asian nation’s interior ministry said the person who drove the vehicle through the gate died when the bomb detonated. The three people injured are Kyrgyz nationals: two 17-year-old embassy gardeners and an unidentified woman. Almaz Kubatbekov, chief physician at the Bishkek National Trauma and Orthopedics Institute, said the three victims suffered concussions and multiple bruises.
Photos from the scene showed the inner courtyard of the embassy compound littered with debris. Windows of one building were smashed and the plastered walls pockmarked with shrapnel.
The embassy in Bishkek’s southern suburbs neighbours the US embassy.
Kyrgyzstan’s interior ministry described it as a terrorist attack. Deputy Prime Minister Zhenish Razakov told the Interfax news agency it was a suicide bombing.
The country, a landlocked former Soviet republic that borders China, has a predominantly Muslim population that is considered moderate in outlook.
A Kyrgyz news website, Kloop.kg, quoted Razakov as saying that he would lead a meeting on tightening security ahead of Kyrgyz Independence Day today and a summit of former Soviet nations in mid-September. In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying described the three victims’ injuries as minor but called for a stern security response.
“China is appalled and strongly condemns the violent act,” Hua told reporters at a daily briefing.
She said China’s foreign ministry has “demanded that Kyrgyz authorities take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Kyrgyzstan, launch a thorough investigation to find out the truth of the incident and harshly punish the perpetrators.”
Kyrgyz authorities offered no guidance on the attacker or a possible motive.
The Chinese regularly have blamed separatists and religious extremists for attacks in China’s northwest region of Xinjiang, which borders Kyrgyzstan. Al-Qaida and the Islamic State group also have threatened to attack Chinese targets in retaliation for alleged repression of Chinese Muslims, particularly those from the Turkic-speaking Uighur majority native to Xinjiang.
Officials say that some 500 Kyrgyz nationals are believed to have joined so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
One of the three men who carried out an attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in June was said to be from Kyrgyzstan. The suicide gun and bomb attack, which Turkey blamed on IS jihadists, left 44 people dead and 240 injured.
Chinese have been targeted in Kyrgyzstan in the past, including in 2000 when one official was shot dead in an attack blamed on Uighurs.
Kyrgyz border guards killed 11 people believed to be members of a Uighur anti-Chinese militant group after they were said to have illegally crossed the border in 2014.
In its travel advice to Kyrgyzstan, the UK government warns of an underlying threat from terrorism.
The radical pan-Islamic group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, is said to have a presence in the country. It was banned in 2006 amid accusations of links to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.