At least seven people are reported dead with an injury count at 66 people and rising after an explosion tore through the front gate of a kindergarten and daycare facility in the eastern Chinese province of Fengxian.  Two people died at the scene, with five more succumbing to their injuries at the hospital thus far, and nine more currently listed in critical condition.  Children are reportedly among the casualties.

According to reports emerging through local media, the explosion took place just outside the front gate of the Chuangxin Kindergarten at about 4:50 p.m. local time while parents were picking up their children from school.  Videos have surfaced on social media of the moment the fireball erupted near the streets, as well as of dozens of men, women, and children laying on the ground, some covered in blood, who appear to be suffering from burns, shrapnel injuries, or the physical trauma of the explosion itself.

“The police and related departments rushed to the scene as soon as it was reported and conducted rescue and investigation work on the site,” police said on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter. “Currently, the investigation work is still underway.”

It is currently unclear as to whether or not the explosion was the result of some sort of accident or if it was a part of an attack.  Law enforcement in the area have not made any statements indicating either possibility thus far.  China maintains strict laws regarding firearms, so most attacks within the Asian state are carried out using bladed weapons or improvised explosives.

“About 5pm, we heard a blast and thought it might have been a gas explosion at a nearby food vendor,” a local shop owner was quoted as saying by online news portal Sohu. “Many people could be dead,” the witness said.

The Islamic State did release a message in March indicating that they were planning attacks in China, wherein they pledged to “shed blood like rivers” in attacks against Chinese targets.  March’s video release was the first time the Islamic State had levied any threats against China.

“Oh, you Chinese who do not understand what people say. We are the soldiers of the Caliphate, and we will come to you to clarify to you with the tongues of our weapons, to shed blood like rivers and avenging the oppressed,” an Islamic State fighter said in the video.  Soon after, the video showed fighters, including children, giving speeches and executing suspected informants.

China has played no major role in the U.S. led fight against ISIS and Islamist Extremism around the globe over the past sixteen years, but many claim they eventually drew the ire of the terrorist organization over their treatment of ethnic Muslims in China.

It is important to note, however, that there are not yet any indications that this was indeed a planned attack, nor has ISIS or any other terrorist group yet claimed responsibility for the incident.

 

Image courtesy of Twitter