An explosion at an illegal gambling hall in a village in China's southwest Guizou province killed 14 people and injured seven others, authorities said. 

The blast struck at about 2.30pm local time on Monday in Laoshan Village, according to the provincial emergency management office.

While the cause of the explosion officially remains under investigation, police believe it was set deliberately and are treating the incident as a crime, the People's Daily said.

Gambling is illegal in China and such operations are mostly connected to organised crime. Guns are strictly controlled, making homemade bombs the weapon of choice.

Blasts are also sometimes caused by the illegal or unsafe storage of fireworks, demand for which spikes in the run-up to the Lunar New Year that falls this year on January 31.

China has sought in recent years to tighten controls over gunpowder and other potential bomb-making products.  


Source: Agencies