Xinhua reports that at least 28 people were killed and more than 100 injured in “an organized, premeditated violent terrorist attack” in Kunming on Saturday evening:
28 civilians died, 113 injured in Saturday’s Kunming railway station violence. Police shot dead 5 attackers and are chasing the rest.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) March 1, 2014
A group of unidentified knife-wielding people attacked the Kunming Railway Station in the capital of southwest China’s Yunnan Province at around 9 p.m., causing death and injuries, said the city police.
A Xinhua reporter on the spot said several suspects have been controlled, while police are still investigating people in the station.
[…] Yang Haifei, a local resident of Yunnan, told Xinhua that he was attacked and sustained injuries on his chest and back.
Yang said he was buying a ticket when he saw a group of people rush into the station, most of them in black, and start attacking others.
“I saw a person come straight at me with a long knife and I ran away with everyone,” he said, adding that people who were slower were severely injured.
“They just fell on the ground,” he said. [Source]
The identities and motives of the perpetrators remain unknown, but suspicion immediately fell on Uyghur extremists following a string of reported clashes in Xinjiang and a high-profile jeep attack at Beijing’s Tiananmen last October. The coordinated involvement of multiple attackers sets these incidents apart from other recent cases around China, which were generally individual acts driven by individual grievances. Reuters’ Ben Blanchard reports apparent efforts to suppress online speculation, but Global Times editor Hu Xijin argued that only the release of more information will effectively achieve this.
Weibo users took to the service to describe details of what happened, though many of those posts were quickly deleted by government censors, especially those that described the attackers, two of whom were identified by some as women.
[…] The attack comes at a particularly sensitive time as China gears up for the annual meeting of parliament, which opens in Beijing on Wednesday and is normally accompanied by a tightening of security across the country.
[…] Hu Xijin, editor of the influential Global Times newspaper, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, wrote on his Weibo feed that the government should say who it suspected of the attack as soon as possible.
“If it was Xinjiang separatists, it needs to be announced promptly, as hearsay should not be allowed to fill the vacuum,” Hu wrote. [Source]
Updated at 15:35 PST: Xinhua now reports that, according to local authorities, “evidence at the crime scene showed that the Kunming Railway Station terrorist attack was carried out by Xinjiang separatist forces.”