Beijing’s historic Tiananmen Gate witnessed commotion and reports of smoke Wednesday as the National People’s Congress was entering session, according to the South China Morning Post, or SCMP.
According to the report, five witnesses saw activity near the main entrance to the Forbidden City at around 11 a.m. local time (10 p.m. EST) after which smoke was seen rising from the site. A report from Reuters noted that the police arrested two people protesting at the site Wednesday.
“I had a glance that four, five men trying to put out a fire,” a woman from Jilin province present at the scene told SCMP. “I heard it was a woman around 40 who burned herself,” she said. “She was alive when they took her away,” she added.
Some unverified and undated photos were shared online showing the police, who were reportedly present in strength for the NPC session, rushing to extinguish a fire near the square’s northern end. According to the SCMP report, the police also asked visitors to delete photos taken on their phones.
Last October, a jeep burst into flames after ramming through barricades in front of Tiananmen Square's gate tower, killing five people and injuring 38. The incident had occurred just before the Communist Party's third plenum, according to SCMP.