One person was killed and eight others injured when a series of home-made bombs packed with ball bearings exploded in front of a provincial office of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, two days ahead of the party's key meeting to finalise political and economic reforms.
The series of eight blasts from explosives placed in flower beds in front of Shanxi provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China rocked the Taiyuan city, sending shockwaves among China's security establishment which is busy beefing up security after the October 28 "suicide attack" by Islamic militants in Tiananmen Square.
Among the eight injured, one was in serious condition, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Besides suspicion that it could be the second terror attack after the Tiananmen incident in which five persons were killed, speculation is rife if today's explosions pointed to growing social unrest in China in view of the deepening divide between rich and poor as well official apathy in addressing livelihood issues.
The explosions were caused by self-made bombs, local police said without identifying the people behind the blasts.
Eight blasts were heard in today's incident, the official media report said.
Chinese police were intrigued by the use of steel beads and circuit boards in bombs. These items were found scattered at the scene. An initial investigation indicated the incident was caused by self-made bombs, police said.
State television reported that the explosive devices were hidden in roadside flower beds.
Two witnesses told Xinhua that they saw a minivan exploding, sending car debris flying.
Photos posted on microblog site Sina Weibo appeared to show car windows and tyres that were damaged as a result of the blasts, as well as metal ball bearings.
Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi, a province in north central China is home to large-scale coal mining, with a population more than four million.
Asked whether today's blasts as well as Tiananmen attack suggested social unrest in China ahead of the CPC Plenum beginning in Beijing from November 9, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters that the Taiyuan incident is under investigation, while police already identified Tiananmen square incident as a terror attack, he said.
China has blamed East Turkistan Islamic Movement for the Tiananmen incident. ETIM is spearheading the independence movement for Muslim Uyghur majority Xinjiang province.
"The CPC is going to hold a very important session soon. It is of great significance to deepening of reform and opening up of China. We wish this conference a full success," Hong said.
The plenum, regarded as the policy planning body of the Party is set to debate and approve key reforms, especially in the economic front to halt the slide of the slow down of Chinese economy, which contracted to 7.8 per cent GDP last year from double digit growth rates posted till two years ago.
Experts say the economy for the first time in recent years may miss the official target of 7.5 per cent.
Today's blasts quickly became one of the most discussed topics on Chinese microblogs. Many users expressed shock at the use of ball bearings in the bombs.
"This is too ruthless," user Lawyer Wang Junsun wrote, a BBC report said.
Several users linked the incident to growing social and economic pressures in the country.
One microblogger said "this proves that high-handed policies do not bring stability, it will only explode in other more furious ways."
"We are against all acts of terrorism! But we are also opposed to [the government] using the excuse of anti-terrorism to turn China into a country ruled by the police!," said another.