“They were hacking at people like crazy, they didn’t stop to look,” Qin Gang, a 51-year-old local man who rents out his van, said from a hospital bed after being shot through the lower left arm by a police bullet. He said he joined police and security guards running after a group of assailants as they fled from the station.
Qin said he saw at least five attackers, including two women clad in long robes with only their eyes exposed. They carried knives that were as long as a man’s arm and a few inches wide, he said.
“If nobody tried to stop them a lot more would have been killed,” he said. “Hatred may explain this but is there anything personal at all between them and ordinary people?”
Violent terrorist attacks have been increasing since 2009 and have become the biggest security threat to Xinjiang, Xinhua said. Some 190 terrorist attacks were recorded in the region in 2012, increasing by “a significant margin from 2011,” it said, citing the regional public security bureau.
Tensions between the state and the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang, a resource-rich autonomous region, have spilled over to other parts of the country.
In October, a sport-utility vehicle plowed into a crowd at Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing and burst into flames, killing the three occupants and two bystanders. Meng, the top security official, said the people in the SUV had links to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a militant Uighur group blamed in the past for violence in Xinjiang.
China’s President Xi Jinping ordered a crackdown on “violent terrorist activities” after 33 people died when knife-wielding assailants rampaged through a train station in a southwestern city on March 1.
Local authority officials in Kunming said evidence at the scene showed it was a terrorist attack orchestrated by Xinjiang separatist forces, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday. A group promoting human rights for the region’s minority people, the Uighur, called for a transparent investigation.
The assault, days before the annual meeting of the legislature in Beijing, highlights growing social unrest amid widening inequality and increasing tensions between the state and some ethnic groups including the mostly Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang. The ruling Communist Party last November set up a state committee to better coordinate security issues as it faces dissent at home and expands its military reach.
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