DHARAMSALA, May 1: Three people were killed and 79 others were injured, in an attack on a railway station in Urumqi, the capital of East Turkistan (Ch: Xinjiang), as Chinese President, Xi Jinping wrapped up a four-day visit to the restive region.
Calling it a “violent terrorists attack”, China’s official news agency Xinhua reported that knife-wielding mobs slashed people at the passenger exit of the station and set off explosives at the same time.
The attack occurred around 7:10 pm on April 30 at an area between the station exit and a bus stop on BRT route 1, the report said. The station remained cordoned off until 9 pm when it reopened and resumed services under heavy police presence.
The blast coincided with the last day of President Xi’s first visit as the leader of the country to the far western region, home to around 9 million Uighur Muslims.
Following the blast, President Xi urged for “decisive actions” to be taken against terrorist attacks.
“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 quoted Xi as saying.
Xi also called for “profound awareness of the Xinjiang separatist forces” and noted that the anti-separatism battle in Xinjiang is “long-term, complicated and acute”.
Critics and rights groups blame Beijing’s hard-line policies that threaten native Uighur Muslim people’s religion, culture and language for the unrest in the region.
In 2009, ethnic rioting between Uighurs and Han Chinese in Urumqi left around 200 people dead. The Chinese authorities responded with a security crackdown, but lately Uighur protests against the communist regime has spread to other areas taking on a more violent form.
Last October, a car explosion near Mao’s portrait at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing killed two tourists and left more than three dozen wounded. The three Uighurs inside the car were killed in the explosion, and five Uighurs described as separatists were arrested.
In early March, 29 people were stabbed to death in the south western city of Kunming which the government blamed on the Uighur militancy.