Gas blast rattles neighborhood

September 25, 2009 | Posted by Chris

A gas explosion this morning at a restaurant not far from the center of Beijing injured 3 workers and a number of pedestrians, the AFP reports. The explosion took place in Beijing's Xinjiekou neighborhood which is located in a district called Xicheng -- the western half of Beijing's downtown area -- and which also will be a stop on the new subway line 4 that is expected to open in the near future. News coverage of the event points out that the explosion is "likely to further raise tensions" in the city during the run-up to the big National Day celebrations on October 1, because strict security has already been in place in the city for some time. The restaurant specialized in Xinjiang food, which comes from China's Muslim-dominated northwest that has attracted headlines recently for unrest. Xinjiang food is very popular in Beijing among locals and foreigners alike, and such restaurants are ubiquitous in the city. Chuanr (串儿 or chuànr), for example, is a popular Xinjiang snack consisting of grilled meat or seafood served on a stick -- a kind of kebab.

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