33 killed in China train station attack

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Sunday, March 2, 2014


BEIJING -- More than 10 knife-wielding attackers slashed people at a train station in a southwestern city in what authorities called a terrorist attack by ethnic separatists in western China, and police fatally shot four of the assailants, leaving 33 people dead and 130 others wounded, state media said.

The attackers, most of them dressed in black, stormed the Kunming train station in Yunnan province and started attacking people Saturday evening, according to witnesses.

Student Qiao Yunao was waiting to catch a train at the station when people starting crying and running, and then saw a man slash 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," Yunao 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," she added.

Xinhua News Agency said one suspect was arrested.

Evidence found at the scene of the attack showed that it was "a terrorist attack carried out by Xinjiang separatist forces," the agency quoted the municipal government as saying. Authorities considered it to be "an organized, premeditated violent terrorist attack."

The far western region of Xinjiang is home to a simmering rebellion against Chinese rule by separatists among parts of the Muslim Uighur (pronounced WEE'-gur) population.

Most attacks blamed on Uighur separatists take place in Xinjiang, but Saturday's assault took place more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) to the southeast in Yunnan, which has not had a history of such unrest. However, a suicide car attack blamed on Uighur separatists that killed five people at Beijing's Tiananmen Gate last November raised alarms that militants may be aiming to strike at targets throughout the country.

The violence in Kunming came at a sensitive time as political leaders in Beijing prepared for Wednesday's opening of the annual meeting of the nominal legislature where the government of President Xi Jinping will deliver its first one-year work report.

Xi called for "all-out efforts" to bring the culprits to justice. In a statement, the Security Management Bureau under the Ministry of Public Security said that police will "crack down the crimes in accordance with the law without any tolerance."

A Xinhua reporter on the scene in Kunming said several suspects had been "controlled" while police continued their investigation of people at the train station. The reporter said firefighters and emergency medical personnel were at the station and rushing injured people to hospitals for treatment.

Authorities said five suspects were shot dead but their identities had not yet been confirmed, and police were hunting for the remaining attackers, Xinhua reported.

More than 60 victims of Saturday's attack were taken to Kunming No. 1 People's Hospital.

Xinhua said some victims were migrant workers who were returning to factories after family reunions over the Chinese New Year.

Footage on China's state broadcaster CCTV showed a heavy police presence near the station and plainclothes agents wrapping a long knife in a plastic bag as investigators collected evidence following the attacks.

Pictures on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, showed bodies covered in blood at the station.

The Kunming railway station, located in the southeastern area of the city, is one of the largest in southwest China. (AP)

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