BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan: A van driven by a suicide bomber exploded after ramming through a gate at the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday, wounding three people, 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.
Razakov said the three wounded were all Kyrgyz employees of the Chinese embassy and that they had been taken to hospital. Local medics said their injuries were not serious.
Police sources told Agence-France Presse that a Mitsubishi Delica van smashed through a gate at the embassy Tuesday morning before blowing up in the center 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.” Body parts thought to be from the attacker were found several hundred meters from the blast site, a source said.
The security service of the ex-Soviet Central Asian nation — which borders China — said an “explosive device” had been placed inside the vehicle, an official said.
Local residents told AFP that the blast had blown in their windows and caused their houses to shake.
Pictures posted on social media purporting to be from the embassy showed a gate smashed open and debris inside the compound.
An AFP journalist close to the scene said that damage could be seen on the embassy buildings and that police had cordoned off the area as emergency services worked.
Law enforcement officials also 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.
Impoverished majority-Muslim Kyrgyzstan has a history of political instability and battling Islamist extremism.
The economically troubled ally of Russia has seen two governments overthrown and ethnic violence claim hundreds of lives since it gained independence in 1991.
Kyrgyzstan is gearing up to mark 25 years since independence from the Soviet Union with celebrations in Bishkek on Wednesday.