BEIJING Three family members who set themselves on fire in a car in Beijing Wednesday were Uighurs, an ethnic group from China's far-western frontier, who had come to the capital to petition lawmakers, a source told Reuters.
China's national parliament begins its annual session next week and many aggrieved citizens try to come to the capital at this time to air complaints about everything from corruption, lost land and jobs to investments gone sour.
The family had come to Beijing to petition, apparently related to a dispute over housing, the Beijing-based source with knowledge of the situation said Thursday.
The husband and wife, aged 59 and 58, were hospitalised with burn injuries, the man's serious, the Xinhua news agency said late Wednesday without specifying their identities.
Their son, aged 28, was not injured and is in police custody, the source said.
Police stopped the grey car with Xinjiang licence plates when the driver, apparently lost, turned onto the Wangfujing pedestrian shopping street.
The husband, who was doused in gasoline, lit himself when the police stopped the car for a traffic violation, the source said.
The Xinjiang government's representative office in Beijing denied a report by the Hong Kong-based Centre for Human Rights and Democracy that the couple was affiliated with the office.
(Reporting by Lucy Hornby and Benjamin Kang Lim)