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Blast in illegal gambling hall in China kills 14

BEIJING (AP) — An explosion Monday at an illegal gambling hall in a village in southern China killed 14 people and injured seven others, state media report.

The blast struck at around 2:30 p.m. (0630 GMT) outside the city of Kaili in the poor southern province of Guizhou, the official People's Daily newspaper and Xinhua News Agency said. While the cause of the explosion officially remains under investigation, police believe it was set deliberately and are treating the incident as a crime, People's Daily said.

Gambling is illegal in China and such operations are mostly connected to organized 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.

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