CHINA - Chinese authorities suspect suicide attackers drove the vehicle that ploughed into pedestrians at Beijing's Tiananmen Square and set it on fire, killing five people including the three inside, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
At least 38 people were injured in Monday's incident at Tiananmen, part of the closely guarded heart of the Chinese government, but there has been no official word whether it was an accident or an attack.
Authorities suspect the incident was an attack just ahead of November's key conclave of the ruling Communist Party's elite 205-member Central Committee at which major economic reforms are expected to be announced, a source with direct knowledge of the case and a source with ties to the leadership told Reuters.
"It looks like a premeditated suicide attack," the source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid repercussions for talking to the foreign media.
Police are still investigating and have yet to determine the identities of the three people in the vehicle, according to the sources. But Beijing police said late on Monday they were looking for two suspects from the restive far western region of Xinjiang in connection with a "major incident".
The sources said that the men were suspected of lighting a flammable material on the vehicle.
"It was no accident. The jeep knocked down barricades and rammed into pedestrians. The three men had no plans to flee from the scene," said the source who has ties to the leadership.
A Reuters reporter at the scene at the time said he did not heard any gunshots.
On Monday night, hours after the fire, Beijing police issued a notice asking local hotels about suspicious guests who had checked in since Oct 1 and named two suspects it said were from Xinjiang. Four hotels told Reuters they had received the notice.