DHARAMSALA, May 22: At least 31 people were killed and around 90 others injured in one of the deadliest attacks in years in Urumqi, the capital of East Turkistan (Ch: Xinjiang)when a series of explosions struck an open-air market early today.
China’s Ministry of Public Security called it a “serious violent terrorist attack” and vowed to crackdown on the perpetrators behind the incident.
President Xi Jinping pledged to severely punish the “terrorists” and spare no efforts in maintaining stability in response to the fatal explosions in Urumqi, Xinhua quoted Xi as saying in a statement.
Two vehicles plowed into shoppers at the open market at 7: 50 am, reported Xinhua. Explosives were thrown out of the windows and one of the vehicles exploded.
Images circulating on the social media showed scenes of chaos with bloodied people lying on the ground and flames and smoke billowing out from the end of a tree-lined street.
The restive region has been reeling under tension since ethnic riots between native Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in 2009 left nearly 200 people dead.
The latest attack comes less than a month after an explosion hit a railway station in Urumqi on April 30, killing three people and injuring 79 others as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up a four-day visit to the restive region.
In early March, 29 people were stabbed to death in China’s south western city of Kunming and a car explosion near Mao’s portrait at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing killed two tourists and left more than three dozen wounded in October last year.
While Chinese authorities have called these attacks acts of “terrorism” and “separatism”, 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 that is increasingly becoming more violent.