At least two die as blasts hit Chinese buses: media

BEIJING (Reuters) - Explosions on two Chinese buses killed at least two people and injured 14 in the southwestern city of Kunming on Monday, media said, amid a security clampdown ahead of next month’s Beijing Olympics.

The official Xinhua news agency blamed the blasts on “sabotage” and said police had started roadside checks in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, to try to find the person or persons responsible.

One of the injured passengers was in critical condition, Xinhua cited the provincial health department as saying.

“My wife is gone, and I’m injured; I feel it is the end of the world,” Xinhua quoted Han Guangming, husband of one of the victims, as saying.

The attack happened less than three weeks before the Beijing Games, which China has warned could be a target of terror attacks.

An explosion on one bus happened at the Panjiawan stop at 7.10 a.m. and the second blast was nearby nearly an hour later, Xinhua said. Pictures showed a gaping hold in the side of one of the buses and glass scattered in the street.

Local media reports had said earlier that a third explosion had occurred nearby, and that a third victim had died on the way to hospital.

Slideshow ( 8 images )

The public security ministry had sent a team of experts to Kunming to investigate the blasts, Xinhua said.

China has occasionally witnessed bus explosions staged by disgruntled farmers or laid-off workers wanting to air grievances over poverty, demolitions or corruption.

The Kunming blasts also came two days after Yunnan police opened fire and killed two rubber farmers in the province’s Menglian county in a clash that also saw 41 police officers injured.

The clash was sparked when police tried to arrest five people in Menglian for allegedly attacking a local rubber company in a long-running dispute between farmers and the private firm, state media said.

Chinese authorities have directed officials to redress local residents’ grievances and act on complaints to try to resolve disputes and ensure a “harmonious social atmosphere” in the Olympics period.

But the country has struggled to curb unrest. In June, 30,000 residents rioted in the streets of Weng’an, in Guizhou province, after allegations spread that police had covered up the rape and murder of a local teenage girl.

Reporting by Guo Shipeng, Ben Blanchard and Jason Subler; Editing by David Fox