A man in a wheelchair detonated a bomb at Beijing's international airport, in an apparent protest against police brutality.
Ji Zhongxing, 33, from Heze in the eastern province of Shandong, entered the main arrivals area of Beijing Capital Airport's Terminal 3, wheeled himself down the exit channel for passengers disembarking from international flights, and started to shout and distribute leaflets.
According to witnesses, he warned passengers to stay back and then held aloft a white object. When the police began to approach, he exploded the device, which was reported by Chinese Central Television to be made out of gunpowder taken from fireworks.
A puddle of dark red blood on the floor showed that Ji had managed to get within 2m of the main arrivals gate at China's flagship airport terminal.
Photographs taken by witnesses showed a bright flash and then thick clouds of white smoke filling the airport.
After the blast, Ji was taken to Jishuitan hospital where his left arm was amputated. A policeman suffered light injuries and was being treated at a second hospital but there were no other victims.
The well-oiled Chinese security apparatus quickly whirred into action. Within 90 minutes, investigators had photographed the scene and bagged the evidence and a team of cleaners was erasing all trace of what had happened.
The arrivals channel was reopened shortly afterward and arriving passengers passed over the spot oblivious that anything untoward had occurred.
Some postings about Ji's protest on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, were erased.
According to his older brother, Ji Zhongji, Ji had been working as a rickshaw driver in the southern Chinese city of Xintang when he was beaten by local police with a steel tube, leaving him disabled.
"We filed two legal cases against the police in Xintang but we never received any official compensation," he said.
In 2008, Ji went to Beijing to put his case before the central Government, his brother said, but had been asked to return home and had not ventured to the capital since.
Two days ago, however, their father, who lived with Ji and cared for him, reported him missing.
"The first I knew about this was when I heard it in the media," his brother said. "I am extremely worried. I have no idea what to do."