Beijing blast
A Chinese police officer (C) gestures among a crowd of bystanders gathered outside the US embassy in Beijing on July 26, 2018 following a blast near the embassy premisesGREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images

A "large explosion" is said to have rocked the street outside the United States Embassy in Beijing, China, on Thursday, July 26. The blast took place around 1 pm and thick smoke could be seen billowing in the area.

Roads near the embassy have now been blocked and several pedestrians and police officials could be seen at the spot.

"There was an explosion at approximately 1 pm today in the public space off the south-east corner of the embassy compound. According to the embassy's regional security officer, there was one individual who detonated a bomb. Other than the bomber, there were no injuries. The local police responded," a US embassy spokesperson told the Guardian.

 While eyewitnesses said that the explosion was quite large, authorities described it as one with "low intensity."

The street also houses the Indian embassy, but officials have said that there were no fatalities or injuries to the staff. "It was a very low intensity blast close to the Indian Embassy (near US Embassy), no reports of fatalities or injury, police are investigating, there was no harm to Indian Embassy or any staff: Sources on blast in Chinese capital," ANI quoted its sources as saying. 

A visa agent told the New York Times that a man seemed to have detonated a device and he had been trying to garner attention to a human rights issue. The man is said to be a 26-year-old from China's Inner Mongolia region and has injured his hand. 

Hours before the explosion took place, a woman, who had doused herself in gasoline had been arrested and taken away from the same place by the police. However, it is not known if there is any link between the two incidents. 

Meanwhile, the explosion comes at a time when China and the US are already embattled in a trade war and the two nations have imposed tariffs on goods worth $34 billion.