Three people were killed and at least 79 wounded in a bomb and knife attack at a train station in the far western (heavily Muslim) region of China on Wednesday, state media said. President Xi promised “decisive actions against the Muslim terrorists” behind the attack in Xinjiang, a region beset for years by violence the government blames on Islamic militants and separatists seeking an independent state called East Turkistan.
REUTERS Quoting police, Xinhua news agency said “knife-wielding mobs slashed people” at an exit of the South Railway Station of Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region, and set off explosives. Pictures on China’s Twitter-like Weibo site showed blood on suitcases and debris on the ground in front of the station. Many posts carrying the images were later removed by censors.
It was not clear if President Xi was still in Xinjiang at the time of the attack, at the end of his four-day visit to the region during which he stressed tough policing to fight “terrorists”.
Responding to the attack, he said: “The battle to combat violence and terrorism will not allow even a moment of slackness, and decisive actions must be taken to resolutely suppress the terrorists’ rampant momentum,” Xinhua reported. Xi said the battle against Muslim separatists would be “long-term, complicated and acute”.
Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress exile group, said he feared the incident would lead to a new round of repression against Xinjiang’s Uighurs.
“It’s extremely worrying. No matter what happens, China first of all represses the Uighurs, leading to many Uighurs being locked up,” he said by telephone. “We can see from this that Xinjiang is in a period of turmoil, and such incidents could happen again at any time. This is the trend and it’s directly related to Beijing’s policies.”
Islamic terrorism in Xinjiang has caused the deaths of more than 100 people in the past year, prompting a tougher stance against Turkic-language speaking Uighurs, many of whom resent government controls on their culture and religion.
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