A wheelchair-bound Chinese man, who was reported to have been petitioning authorities for justice after suffering police abuse, detonated an explosive device at the arrivals area of Beijing airport on Saturday evening.

The official Xinhua news agency said “a disabled person ignited bombs on himself” using fireworks and gunpowder, adding that the explosion, which left the arrivals area covered with smoke and dust, caused no casualties or injuries.

Police authorities identified the man as Ji Zhongxing (39) from northeastern Shandong province, adding that he was receiving treatment for his injuries.

Citing a police probe, Xinhua reported that Mr. Ji carried out the explosion after he was “stopped from handing out leaflets to get attention to his complaints”.

The case received wide attention as it not only took place in one of the most secure areas of the capital, but was also almost immediately reported as witnesses began posting photographs on social media websites.

Photographs were, within minutes, widely shared on the Chinese Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo, which has more than 500 million users, showing the wheelchair-bound Ji holding aloft a white packet, minutes before the explosion.

Plea for justice

Media reports said Mr. Ji had been petitioning authorities for justice after he had been beaten by police and left paralysed.

He was reported to have been working as an unlicenced taxi driver in Shandong.

A blog entry, which some Chinese media reports identified as having been penned by Mr. Ji — deleted later on Saturday evening — described how his efforts at seeking justice from authorities led him nowhere and left him hopeless and in a state of desperation.