Caixin
May 14, 2012 07:29 PM

Authorities Say Yunnan Bomb Suspect Misidentified

(Beijing) – Police investigations into the suicide bombing which killed 4 people and injured 16 in China's southwestern Yunnan Province stirred suspicion over the intrusion of local officials into findings after authorities announced the bomb suspect was misidentified.

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The explosion occurred on May 10 in Yunnan Province's Qiaojia County, during a local government meeting convened to address villagers on relocation plans. Authorities now say the bomb suspect was a man named Zhao Dengyong. The announcement ran contrary to several eyewitness reports that said a local woman was the bomb suspect.

On the day of the blast, both state-run national and local media reported that a local woman carrying her one-year-old son detonated explosives at the meeting after failing to reach an agreement with officials over forced evictions and relocation plans.

A reporter with the Kunming-based Spring City Evening News, Huang Xingneng, wrote on his microblogging account May 10, "Witnesses at the explosion site said they saw a woman ignite explosives after she was told her family would not be given compensation for her demolished home."

State media reports identify the bomb suspect as a man that only recently moved to the county just three years ago and worked as a day laborer. According to state-run Xinhua News, Zhao is originally from a town 100 kilometers away from Qiaojia County. The motive of the suicide blast, according to the local government, was unrelated to land dispute issues.

A May 12 Xinhua report stated, "A young man with a black backpack appeared in the government hall's surveillance video at 8:59 am. At 9:04 am, the explosion occurred." The report states that the remains of the suspect were identified as Zhao's. 

During interviews with Caixin, several villagers said they found it unlikely the explosion was unrelated to relocation issues. According to the Spring City Evening News, family members of Zhao questioned the possibility of Zhao's involvement given eyewitness accounts that state he was not at the site of the bombing and the lack of his ties to land dispute issues.

For roughly 95,000 villagers in the county, there are 73,000 hectares of land, putting the per capita ratio of land at less than one hectare in a largely agrarian area.

In 2006, the county government announced plans to forcibly evict villagers and convert farming land into a bus transportation depot. However, villagers said they later discovered the land was used for private apartments for local leaders.

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