China blames separatists for knife attack

2014-03-02 11:30
Armed paramilitary policemen patrol near the Kunming Railway Station in China, after more than 10 assailants slashed scores of people with knives, killing at least 33. (AP Photo)

Armed paramilitary policemen patrol near the Kunming Railway Station in China, after more than 10 assailants slashed scores of people with knives, killing at least 33. (AP Photo)

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Kunming — More than 10 assailants slashed scores of people with knives at a train station in southern China in what officials said on Sunday was a terrorist assault by ethnic separatists from the far west. Twenty-nine slash victims and four attackers were killed and 143 people wounded.

Police fatally shot four of the assailants, captured one and were searching for the others following the attack late on Saturday at the Kunming train station in Yunnan province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. State broadcaster CCTV said at least two of the attackers were women — one of the slain and the one who was captured and later brought to a hospital for treatment.

Witnesses described assailants dressed in black storming the train station and slashing people indiscriminately with large knives and machetes.

Student Qiao Yunao, aged 16, was waiting to catch a train at the station when people started crying out and running, and then saw a man cut another man's neck, drawing blood.

"I was freaking out, and ran to a fast food store, and many people were running in there to take refuge," she told The Associated Press via Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblog. "I saw two attackers, both men, one with a watermelon knife and the other with a fruit knife. They were running and chopping whoever they could."

The attackers' identities have not been confirmed, but evidence at the scene showed that it was "a terrorist attack carried out by Xinjiang separatist forces", Xinhua quoted the municipal government as saying.

Xinhua said that in addition to the four attackers who died, 29 civilians were killed and 143 wounded.

A heavy contingent of armed police patrolled in and around the railway station Sunday afternoon, but its ticket window was back in operation and cleanup crews disinfected the area with spray. A local woman laid a bunch of yellow lilies and other flowers near a bull statue in front of the station.

"This is to express our condolences for the victims and to show we have no fear in the face of violence," said the woman, who gave her name only as Guo.

The far western region of Xinjiang is home to a simmering rebellion against Chinese rule by some members of the Muslim Uighur (pronounced WEE'-gur) population, and the government has responded with heavy-handed security.

Most attacks blamed on Uighur separatists take place in Xinjiang, where clashes between ethnic Uighurs and members of China's ethnic Han majority are frequent, but Saturday's assault happened more than 1 000km to the southeast in Yunnan, which has not had a history of such unrest.


- AP
Read more on:    china
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