China street bomb
A series explosions went off outside of the Communist Party building in Taiyuan, Shanxi province. Reuters

At least one person has died after a series of six bombs went off outside of a provincial Communist Party office building in northern China. State media is reporting that at least eight people have also been injured as a result of the blasts, which took place in Taiyuan, located in Shanxi province.

State-run Xinhua News Agency, reported that the explosions were caused by what appear to be home-made bombs. “Judging by steel ball bearings scattered through the scene, [authorities] suspect an improvised explosive device,” the report said. “Right now the police have blocked off the scene and the incident is under investigation.”

Police are reporting that the explosions reportedly went off in the middle of morning rush hour, at around 7:40am local time, with most of the timer-equipped bombs being placed along the building’s perimeter of hedges. According to the Telegraph, one of the bombs was placed in an ornamental potted plant just 30 feet away from the building's main gate.

While the bombs went off outside the building, it is believed that the government officials were still the main target of the attack. “They must have been timed for when government officials begin to arrive at work,” one local resident and witness, who declined to be named, said in the report. “If they wanted to hurt the public, they would have left them outside the bus station.”

“They went off one after another, with a 20-second interval: bang, bang, bang,” he said.

The victim of the explosion has yet to be identified, but other bystanders are suggesting it may have been an elderly woman who was walking her grandson to school, on the other side of the street. The bombs, though homemade, were still quite technologically advanced and had some significant power. Shrapnel from the explosion had a radius of about 100 feet (30 meters).

The explosion comes at a particularly sensitive time in China. Just last week, a white jeep exploded in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, killing five and injuring several others. The explosion has since been deemed to be a “terrorist attack” by Chinese state media. At the same time, China’s top leaders are gathering in Beijing for the Third Plenum meeting, where the central government will essentially forecast the country’s economic strategies.

A 53-year old man near the scene going by the last name Ma says that many people in Taiyuan are angry, and unhappiness has been mounting for years. “There are so many groups of people who would have a reason to do this,” Ma said. “Lots of people in the city are angry. I remember once there was an attack on the building by 500 people, and another time I photographed a woman who managed to get inside the compound before she was dragged away. The police came to me and made me delete the picture.”