Beijing — (UPDATE) Chinese authorities have detained five suspects in connection with Monday’s car crash in Tiananmen Square, which has been identified as a terrorist attack, said Beijing police on Wednesday.
Police said the attack which killed five and injured 40 was “carefully planned, organized and premeditated,” on their official Weibo account online.
A spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said Beijing police, working with police in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, captured the suspects.
Xinjiang is a Muslim-dominated region which has been restive in recent years.
The spokesman said Usmen Hasan, his mother Kuwanhan Reyim, and his wife Gulkiz Gini drove the jeep bearing a Xinjiang license plate into a crowd in Tiananmen Square at noon on Monday, according to reports.
The jeep crashed into a guardrail of Jiinshui Bridge across the moat of the Forbidden City. The three occupants of the jeep died when they set gasoline afire, said the spokesman.
The other two fatalities were a woman from the Philippines and a Chinese man, both tourists.
The police statement said they found gasoline, two knives, steel sticks, “as well as a flag with extremist religious content’ in the jeep.
It added that authorities found knives and a “jihad” flag in the temporary residence of the five arrested suspects.
Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Center for China Studies, said Beijing’s leaders would consider the incident a loss of face, especially if it turns out to be related to Uyghur separatism.
Tiananmen Square was back to normal on Tuesday.