07/21/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Three buses explode in Yunnan, killing three and hurting dozens

This morning three different attacks hit public transit in Kunming, in the south-western province of Yunnan. The area has seen unrest last week crushed in bloodshed by the police. The government calls for “order and harmony” on the eve of the Olympics.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Three explosions in the Kunming, capital of the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan, have left at least three people dead and 14 injured, according to reports. Nothing is known yet about the motives, nor has anyone claimed responsibility for the attacks, but they are a source of concern for authorities in Beijing in terms of security measures taken across the country less than three weeks from the start of the Olympics.

The first blast hit a bus at 7:10 am (local time) when it was in front of the Panjiawan bus stop (see photo); the second took place about an hour later in an area not far away. A third source, not confirmed by any official authorities, said a third explosion had taken place near Minshan, but there are no details at the moment.

What is known is that the first two bus explosions killed two people, and that a third person, already in desperate conditions, died on the way to hospital.

This morning’s attacks are further sign of the growing tensions in the area, scene of demonstrations last week-end.

On Saturday police opened fire during a street demonstration by farmers in Menglian County. Two people were killed and 41 police agents were hurt in the incident.

Some sources say that today’s bus blasts are a response by the population against law enforcement.

An attempt by police to arrest five people accused of attacking the owners of a local rubber company is said to be the cause of the riot. A labour dispute between rubber farmers and buyers has been going on for quite sometime over protection and guarantees.

A delegation from the central government arrived in the area to re-establish security and bring back “order and harmony” before the Olympic Games. Vice-Governor Cao Jianfang, Yunnan Police Chief Meng Tiesu and Gao Xusheng, party secretary of Puer City which oversees Menglian, spoke at length with demonstrators, urging them to be calm.

Yunnan Party Secretary Bai Enpei issued a "three-point instruction" demanding responsible officials handle the case carefully and "communicate better" with local villagers.

The authorities also promised to act as mediators with company bosses, but failed to re-establish calm.

Despite slogans by the Communist Party which emphasise order and social harmony China is experiencing unrest on a vast scale with crackdown causing more and more bloodshed.

Last June in Wengan (Guizhou province) more than 30,000 people protested demanding answers about the death of a teenage girl. According to police the 15-year-old took her own life throwing herself into a river. The girl’s relatives say instead that she was raped and killed, and then thrown into the waters.

Protesters burnt three government offices and at least 40 cars. Only the intervention of 1,500 brought some calm to the situation. But police beat up “rioters”, young and old alike, and proceeded to make a series of arrests. One demonstrator died whilst more than 150 were hurt.

Another episode of unrest took place on 10 July in Yuhuan (Zhejiang), when thousands of migrant workers clashed with police. Tens of demonstrators were arrested.

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