China’s Tiananmen Square has been swamped by security personnel on the 25th anniversary of the Beijing massacre.
Foreign journalists were ushered away from the square and passers-by were searched and had their papers checked.
In recent weeks, the authorities have detained dozens of activists to ensure their silence on the anniversary.
The 1989 protesters wanted political reform, but the crackdown was ordered after hardliners won a power struggle within the ruling Communist Party.
Tiananmen Square has been swamped by security personnel on the 25th anniversary of the Beijing massacre (photo AFP)
The authorities classify the 1989 protests as counter-revolutionary riots and hold no memorial.
In Hong Kong, however, thousands are expected to take part in a Tiananmen remembrance rally.
Activist groups in Taiwan are also marking the anniversary by erecting a huge image of Tiananmen Square during the crackdown.
In the weeks before this year’s anniversary, the Chinese authorities have detained lawyers, journalists and activists.
Rights group Amnesty International said in a statement that 66 people had been detained, questioned, or have gone missing.
Internet search terms related to the 1989 massacre and the protests have been blocked, and access on Google has reportedly been restricted.
The protests were the biggest rally against Communist rule since the People’s Republic was founded in 1949.
Hundreds of thousands called for democratic reforms in a peaceful demonstration largely focused on a gathering in Tiananmen Square.
After six weeks of protests, the authorities responded on June 4, 1989, with a massacre of hundreds in the streets of Beijing.
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Chinese police have detained five suspects in connection with Monday’s deadly car crash at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, state media report.
Police have described the incident as a “violent terror attack”, the Xinhua news agency says, for first time.
All three people in the car had names from the Muslim Uighur minority in the restive western region of Xinjiang.
Two bystanders died and 38 people were injured after the vehicle crashed into a crowd and burst into flames.
The police said that what happened at Tiananmen Square was a “violent terrorist attack” which was “carefully planned and organised”, Xinhua says.
The jeep that crashed into a bridge in front of the Forbidden City was driven by a man who was with his wife and mother, police said in a statement.
All three had names from the Muslim Uighur minority in the Xinjiang region.
Chinese police have detained five suspects in connection with Monday’s deadly car crash at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square
The three ignited petrol inside the car, they added.
Police said the vehicle they found on Monday had a container for petrol, two knives and what they describe as a flag with extremist religious slogans on it. They added that the car’s number plates were registered in Xinjiang province.
They said they also found more knives and another flag at a location in Beijing.
On Wednesday, a number of news agency reports said a police notice was being circulated among hotels in Beijing, asking information about eight suspects.
Seven have names typical of the Uighur ethnic group and the other, although seemingly from China’s majority Han ethnicity, has an address in Xinjiang, reports say.
A tourist from the Philippines and a tourist from Guangdong province were among those killed in the incident. Another 38 people were injured, including three tourists from the Philippines and one from Japan.
Police shut down the scene of the incident – at the north end of the square at an entrance to the Forbidden City – shortly after it occurred, temporarily closing a subway station and a road.
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At least five people died and 38 others were injured after a vehicle crashed in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Chinese state media have said.
Three of those killed were inside the car and the other two were bystanders.
The square was evacuated and quickly reopened after the vehicle went into the crowd in front of the Tiananmen rostrum at midday.
Images posted online showed a vehicle in flames, amid barricades. There has been no explanation for the crash.
Other pictures on social media showed a column of smoke rising from the scene of the crash.
Three people inside the vehicle died, Beijing police said on its official microblog account, adding that one female tourist from the Philippines and a male tourist from Guangdong province had also died.
Senior leaders from both the central government and the local authorities in Beijing and the Ministry of Public Security have visited the scene, it said.
An investigation is under way and the injured have been taken to hospital, Beijing police said.
Tiananmen Square was the scene of the 1989 pro-democracy protests which were ended by a military crackdown.
At least five people died and 38 others were injured after a vehicle crashed in Tiananmen Square in Beijing
The site is generally kept under very tight security both because of its proximity to key political institutions and so that is does not serve as a hub for protesters and petitioners.
Incidents do occur, nonetheless. In 2011, a man set himself on fire at Tiananmen Square following what officials said was a legal dispute, close to the square’s portrait of Chairman Mao.
Two years before that, three people set themselves on fire in a car at a busy intersection near Tiananmen Square over what the authorities called personal grievances.
In 2000, several members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement were arrested for protesting at the square.
Fire extinguishers are kept at the site, and have been used when protesters set themselves on fire.
Monday’s incident took place at the north end of Tiananmen Square, near an entrance to the Forbidden City.
“A driver and two passengers were killed after a jeep crashed into a crowd of people and caught fire,” Xinhua news agency said.
Citing police and emergency officials, it said police officers were among those injured by the jeep, “which crashed into a guardrail of Jinshui Bridge on the moat of the Forbidden City before bursting into flames at 12:05 pm”.
One unnamed eyewitness told AFP news agency: “I saw a car turn a bend and suddenly it was driving on the pavement, it happened fast but looked like it knocked people over.”
“I heard an explosion and saw fire. The scene was very frightening,” he added.
“There were paramilitary police who told people to get back into their cars and stop taking pictures.”
In a microblog post on its verified Sina Weibo account, the Beijing police said that “the injured people were all sent to a nearby hospital”.
“Police at the site immediately launched rescue efforts, and the fire was quickly extinguished… the situation is currently being investigated further,” the police added.
A subway station close to the square was temporarily closed at the request of police, Beijing transport authorities said. Police also closed the road near the crash.
News of the incident first appeared on social media from those who were at the scene, but it appeared that some pictures were being quickly removed.
AFP news agency said that two of its reporters were also held close to the square, with images deleted from their cameras.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, when asked whether the government believed the incident was a terror attack, said that she did not know the specifics of the case and declined further comment.
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