- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2003

From combined dispatches
BEIJING Blasts caused by homemade explosives tore through cafeterias at China's top two universities within two hours of each other yesterday, injuring at least nine persons, police and school authorities said.
No one immediately took responsibility for the blasts, which shocked students accustomed to relative safety on the Peking and Tsinghua university campuses.
"It's just too frightening," said Wang Xiaohui, a 24-year-old Peking University law student who had left the cafeteria 10 minutes before the blast.
"I thought China was the safest place in the world right now. … I never thought this would happen in a school."
Because of easy access to explosives, China has seen bombings linked to disgruntled workers, spurned lovers and Muslim separatists in recent years. But yesterday's bombs, which appeared to be linked, were the first at these universities.
The explosions came a day after a visit to Beijing by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and a week before China's national legislature opens its annual session, but there was no indication the blasts were connected to those events.
"Initial police investigations show the two explosions were caused by homemade black gunpowder explosives," Liu Wei, spokesman for Beijing's Public Security Bureau, told reporters.
The first explosion occurred at a cafeteria for Tsinghua faculty, shortly before noon, and slightly injured six persons, university spokesman Jiang Yunhong said.
The injured four Tsinghua professors, a teacher from another university and a student from the Beijing Broadcasting Institute were rushed to a hospital, he said.
Tsinghua is the alma mater of Prime Minister Zhu Rongji and Communist Party chief and Vice President Hu Jintao.
Another blast ripped through a dining hall kitchen at nearby Peking University at 1:30 p.m., slightly injuring three cafeteria workers, a university spokeswoman said.
In 1989, students at both universities were at the center of demonstrations for democracy that were brutally crushed by the army on June 4 of that year. But campuses have quieted since, as students have focused more on hitching a ride on China's economic boom.
Peking University student Diane Geng, a 20-year-old Chinese American from California, said: "I thought I was much more removed from the terrorist threat [than] in the U.S., but I guess that's not the case."
Emilio Dirlikov, a 20-year-old from Michigan, was less worried. "I definitely have faith in the Chinese system of public security. There has never been one time in China when I felt truly unsafe."
One of the deadliest bomb attacks in China was in March 2001 in Shijiazhuang, capital of the northern province of Hebei, which killed more than 100 people. That was carried out by a man taking personal revenge against neighbors.
Bombs are a preferred method of attack in China because explosives are cheap and easy to buy.
China has also blamed Muslim Uighur separatists for a series of blasts in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.


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