Saturday, July 26, 2008

Internet access blocked after Kunming blast

Following the bomb attack in Kunming on Monday authorities have placed restrictions on internet cafes in the city. The procedures weren't immediately implemented, however by Tuesday access to the internet was barred at public internet bars and cafes until police had put 'monitoring procedures' in place. On Friday access to the internet was still unavailable though the restrictions do not apply to home users and has not affected other towns or cities. Access to the internet was finally restored on Saturday.

Two people died in the blasts which hit a pair of number 54 buses belonging to the Kunming Bus Company. The first explosion occurred at 07:05 local time [23:05 GMT Sunday] at Renming Xi Lu. One person was killed and another was seriously injured in the blast. Nine others received slight injuries. The second death occurred at 08:10 [00:10 GMT Monday] when another bomb exploded on board a commuter bus at Changyuan Zhong Lu, less than two kilometers east of the first incident. Four others were injured on the second bus. The death toll may have been much higher but for the low number of passengers travelling.

There has been no outspoken criticism towards authorities which took no action to shut down the transport network following the first blast. In 2005, London police immediately shut down bus and subway transport systems within minutes of blasts on trains and a bus which killed 52. But buses and trains continued to run throughout the day in Kunming despite the blasts which authorities described as "deliberate". The speed at which forensic examinations were completed was also very different. In London the subway network faced serious disruption for several weeks and the number 30 bus, involved in London's terror attack, remained in place for more than a week while police examined the scene. But within hours Chinese police had removed the buses from the streets of Kunming and the following day the streets were open once again. The bomb attacks came on the third anniversary of the failed 21/7 terror attacks in London. Officially the authorities in China have not said the blasts were terrorist attacks linked to the Olympic Games. But suspicion will no doubt fall on Islamic separatist groups especially since several such groups have been broken up in recent months.

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