China

China suicide blast man's 'act of desperation'

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Media captionWheelchair user Qu Huaqiang blew himself up in a nearby office

Settled among the green rolling hills of Shandong province, the small farming village of Qu Jiaguo occupies a peaceful corner of China.

Farmers tend their fields while other villagers sit around huge mounds of corn cobs sitting outside almost every house.

But this Monday morning, one man left the village for the last time.

Wheelchair user Qu Huaqiang blew himself up in a nearby government office using home-made explosives.

Six government workers were injured in the blast, including two who suffered serious facial injuries, according to reports.

Image caption Qu Huacheng said that his brother was paralysed after a building accident

His brother - Qu Huacheng - told the BBC that Qu Jiaguo had been paralysed following an accident at a building site almost 20 years ago.

For years Qu had petitioned officials, seeking more compensation than he had already received.

He had even sent letters to China's Premier Wen Jiabao, believing that the leader may be able to help out, but the 49-year-old never got a response.

"He couldn't make ends meet," said Qu Huacheng, 63, a farmer, explaining why his brother committed suicide. "No one wants to die. But this was an act of desperation - that is why he did it."

According to his brother, Qu Huaqiang had been pushed to the government office in a wheelchair by a villager with mental health problems.

'Tragedy for society'

While what happened in Shandong was an extreme example, there has been a growing number of attacks on local officials in recent years.

It is a graphic illustration of the social tensions been felt across China.

There are thousands of protests every month. Many people are angry about official corruption and abuses of power.

China's leaders warn that these issues are eroding the authority of the ruling Communist Party.

Image caption Qu Huaqiang blew himself up at a government office in Shandong

But in this case local officials denied any wrongdoing, according to Chinese state media.

They say that the former construction worker received adequate compensation after his accident and that local authorities were providing assistance.

They say Qu Huaqiang had made threats before about blowing himself up. He even filmed police searching - and then finding - explosives in his own home.

His brother showed me a bizarre home movie in which an official appeared highly amused when there was a small explosion in the room.

Despite all of this, Qu Huacheng insists that his brother would still be alive if officials had followed the rule of law.

He maintains that his brother did not receive the assistance he deserved.

One Chinese social commentator said the "case was a tragedy for the whole of society".

What happened was certainly a rare event in China. But it showed what one man was prepared to do in order to get his voice heard.

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