Chinese authorities pin train station attack on separatists

BY Kayla Ruble  March 2, 2014 at 3:47 PM EST
Chinese police remained on guard on Sunday at a train station in western China where knife-wielding attackers killed 29 people.

Chinese police remained on guard at a train station in western China where knife-wielding attackers killed 29 people on Saturday. Authorities have labelled the violence a terrorist attack and are blaming Uighur separatists. Credit: Mark Ralston/Getty Images

Authorities have blamed separatists in western China for the knife attack that killed 29 people and left 143 injured at a train station in Southwest China on Saturday.

A group of knife-wielding attackers in black clothing descended on a train station late in the day on Saturday in the Yunnan capital city of Kunming.

Local media reported that police shot and killed four of the perpetrators, captured one and were looking for five more suspects.

The assailants’ identities have not been released, but China’s state broadcast station CCTV reported that both the detained suspect and one of the dead attackers were women.

Official Xinhua News Agency reported that there was evidence at the scene indicating “a terrorist attack carried out by Xinjiang separatist forces.”

Some of the Uighurs residing in the western Xinjiang have been part of a separatist movement that the Chinese government has cracked down on in recent years.

According to the Associated Press, authorities were rounding up members of Kunming’s Uighur community after the attack.

Kunming does not have a history of Uighur unrest. The city is more than 900 miles southeast of Xinjiang province where clashes between the Uighur community and China’s ethnic Han majority are more common.

While residents were rattled by the attack, the AP reported that some were sympathetic to the Uighur community.

“It’s the pressure,” local restaurant worker Xie Yulong told the Associated Press. “Beijing has put too much pressure on them since Xi Jinping took over. They are under so much pressure they do not want to live, and they did that.”

Saturday’s train station attack was the deadliest event linked to Uighur-Han clashes since riots occurred in Xinjiang in 2009.