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Chinese Consulate in San Francisco damaged in suspected arson attack

ChineseConsulateDamage.jpg

Jan. 2, 2014: Workers carry stacks of newspaper from the steps of the damaged front of the Chinese consulate after an unidentified person set fire to the main gate in San Francisco, California. (REUTERS)

The Chinese Consulate in San Francisco said Thursday that its compound was damaged in an arson attack and urged American authorities to protect the safety of its diplomats and its premises. 

The consulate said in a statement that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. 

Firefighters responding to the scene around 9:30 p.m. brought the flames under control minutes later. A fire department spokeswoman said the building's exterior and the lobby area suffered some damage. 

No injuries were reported, and it has not been said whether there were any witnesses. An FBI spokesman tells Fox News that the agency along with the Department of States is investigating the incident as a criminal matter. 

The consulate calls the incident "a sabotage of a vile nature" and says China had urged U.S. authorities to launch an immediate investigation.

The fire caused "serious damage to the facilities of the consulate and endangered the safety of the consulate officials and the citizens living nearby. We express strong condemnation," the consulate said in a statement. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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