Arrest made in San Francisco Chinese consulate fire-FBI

by Reuters
Monday, 6 January 2014 20:06 GMT

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By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 6 (Reuters) - One person has been arrested in connection with a fire at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced on Monday.

FBI spokesman Peter Lee said the individual, whom he did not name, currently faces two criminal charges, one of which is arson. Additional details about the arrest will be disclosed on Monday at a news conference in San Francisco, Lee said.

Protests are common outside Chinese diplomatic missions in Western countries but acts of violence are rare.

The consulate in San Francisco sustained fire and smoke damage during the incident last Wednesday evening, but no one was injured.

The consulate has said video cameras recorded the arsonist on Wednesday night, carrying two cans of gasoline from a van parked on the street and then setting an embassy gate ablaze.

The gate is around the corner from where most of the public enters the building.

A small group of staff members was in the building when it was attacked, consulate spokesman Wang Chuan said last week. Video cameras recorded the suspect throwing at least one bottle through the glass over the gate, he said.

The San Francisco Fire Department said it received a report of a fire at 9:33 p.m. PST (0500 GMT), arrived on the scene within two minutes and brought the fire under control within six minutes, and turned over the investigation to the FBI.

Chuan called it a "despicable attack" last week and urged the U.S. to take all necessary measures to protect Chinese personnel. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf last week said the United States takes the incident "very seriously." (Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Cynthia Osterman)

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