Beijing was the target of an "organized terrorist attack" earlier this week when an SUV driven onto Tiananmen Square crashed and burned, killing five people and injuring at least 40, the Chinese government said Wednesday.

Authorities have arrested five people suspected of orchestrating this "premeditated and carefully planned attack" that took place during the week when the annual plenary meeting of the Chinese Communist Party is being held.

Beijing police have determined that three people were riding in the SUV - Usmen Hasan, his wife Gulkiz Gini and his mother Kwanhan Reyim - when on Monday a little after noon the driver "deliberately" crashed the vehicle into the doors of the entrance to the Forbidden City, or imperial palace, where it caught fire, killing all three occupants, state-run CCTV television reported.

As the driver sped toward the crash site, he ran over several tourists and police officers, killing two of the former, a Filipino woman and a man from southern China.

Forty other people were injured, including three Filipino tourists, a Japanese tourist and several police.

Authorities found a container of gasoline, two swords, an iron bar and pamphlets with "extremist religious content" in the burned-out vehicle and said that it was registered in Xinjiang, a region in northwestern China that is the home of the mainly Muslim Uighurs.

Tiananmen, known for the 1989 massacre of student protesters, has been the scene of similar incidents, through Chinese censorship has generally covered them up.

In July 2009, a clash between Uighurs and China's majority Han Chinese left more than 200 dead in Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, an event the Chinese government attributed to terrorist groups seeking to create an independent nation of East Turkestan. EFE