The Aftermath of a Train Station Terror Attack in China

Officials say a separatist group is responsible for a knife attack Saturday that killed 29 and injured 130. 

Image
Associated Press

On Saturday, a team of knife-wielding terrorists killed 29 people and wounded 130 others at a train station in the southwest Chinese city Kunming. Since then, officials have amped up security around the city's public transit hubs.

Witnesses report that men and women dressed in black with cloth masks attacked passengers and employees at random with knives, meat cleavers, and swords. According to state media, there are eight suspected attackers. Four of them were shot dead by police at the scene; three others, according to Xinhua, have been caught.

No organization has claimed responsibility for the attack, but evidence suggests it was conducted by Xinjiang separatists.

Xianjiang, a province at the western edge of the country, is home to many of China's Muslim Uighurs. The Uighurs claim the Chinese government greatly restricts their cultural and religious practices, some have called for their own state called East Turkestan. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement claimed responsibility for an attack in Beijing's Tiananmen Square last October, where a car plowed onto the square, killing two bystanders and all three people in the vehicle. Police at Saturday's crime scene found banners promoting an independent East Turkestan. 

Kunming is the capital of Yunnan, a province several hundreds of miles away from Xinjiang. After the attack, police were reported to have swept through a district in the city heavily populated with Muslim Uighurs. One resident told Reuters on Sunday, "I alone have already been checked three times. The police point their guns at us. We don't know what really happened." Other Uighur men reported to have been interrogated for hours.

Verifying reports of extremism in China, according to the BBC, is difficult due to media restrictions. The government has been accused in the past of exaggerating the threat of Islamic terrorism and claims that Uighurs are given religious, cultural and linguistic freedoms. Correspondents say that Saturday's attack is likely to be used by Beijing as proof of the growing threat China faces from Muslim extremists.

China's annual parliamentary session is scheduled to take place in Beijing later this week. Domestic security is expected to be one of the most discussed matters.

Policemen check unclaimed luggage at a square outside the Kunming railway station after a knife attack, in Kunming, Yunnan province March 2, 2014. (REUTERS/Stringer)

A man, whose relative was killed in a knife attack, lies on the floor as he burns offerings at Kunming railway station in Kunming, Yunnan province March 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Wong Campion)
Paramilitary policemen run as they patrol along a street after a knife attack near Kunming railway station in Kunming, Yunnan province March 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Wong Campion)
Delegates pay silent tribute to victims killed in Saturday's knife attack at Kunming railway station at the beginning of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Jason Lee)
A girl looks up at patrolling paramilitary policemen with guns after a knife attack along a street near Kunming railway station, Yunnan province, March 2, 2014. (REUTERS/Wong Campion)
Paramilitary policemen with guns stand guard after a knife attack at a crossroads near Kunming railway station, Yunnan province, March 2, 2014. (REUTERS/Wong Campion)
Police stand near luggages left at the ticket office after a group of armed men attacked people at Kunming railway station, Yunnan province, March 2, 2014.  (REUTERS/Stringer)
A Uighur family walk past a tourism advertisement displaying figures representing different ethnic minority groups while on their way to the Kunming Railway Station in western China's Yunnan province, Monday, March 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
Armed policemen guard their positions in front of Kunming Railway Station in Kunming, in western China's Yunnan province, Sunday, March 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
A man looks at sympathy messages on wreaths left under a bull sculpture on a square outside the Kunming Railway Station where more than 10 assailants slashed scores of people with knives and machetes Saturday night in Kunming, in western China's Yunnan province, Monday, March 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

About the Author