News / Asia

China Blames Terrorists for Deadly Train Station Knife Attack

Passengers wait in front of a broken propaganda poster featuring
Passengers wait in front of a broken propaganda poster featuring "the China Dream" outside the Kunming Railway Station in Kunming, in western China's Yunnan province, March 2, 2014.
William Ide
Chinese authorities say separatist terrorists carried out a violent and bloody attack at a train station late Saturday night in Kunming, the capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province. The attack left at least 33 dead and more than 130 injured.
 
Kunming, Yunnan province, ChinaKunming, Yunnan province, China
x
Kunming, Yunnan province, China
Kunming, Yunnan province, China
According to eyewitness accounts posted online and in state-run media, more than 10 assailants dressed in black and carrying long fruit knives randomly slashed and hacked travelers in the station.
 
The carnage began inside, near the train station's ticket counters, and then spilled out onto the main square in front of the station. State media say four of the assailants were shot dead and one, a female, was taken into police custody. Others are still on the run.

Although authorities have given little detail so far, they say there is ample evidence that shows the attack was carried out by separatists from China's restive western Xinjiang region.

Calls to End 'Terrorism'
 
Chinese state media have dubbed the incident China's 9-11 a reference to the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001.  In an opinion piece, the state-run Xinhua news agency argued that terrorists should be punished with an iron fist and warned that nationwide outrage had been stirred.
 
The piece also noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent decision to establish a state security committee was both timely and necessary. Very little is known about the new body, which is expected to focus on domestic security among other things.
 
President Xi has called on authorities to stop what he calls the rampant momentum of terrorists. The attack in Kunming is the second in less than six months that authorities say has been carried by separatists from Xinjiang.
 
Last October, authorities blamed Muslim Uighur separatists for driving a jeep onto the doorstep of the Forbidden City in Beijing. That incident, which authorities also called a terrorist attack, killed five people and injured dozens of others.
 
The attack in Kunming comes just as China's lawmakers and top political advisors begin holding annual meetings in Beijing. In response, some are calling on the government to launch a harsh nation-wide crackdown in response.
 
China's Xinhua news agency quotes Yin Zhuo, the head of an expert panel that consults for the Chinese navy as one of those in support of such a plan.
 
"The well-planned attack was not an issue of ethnics or religion, it was an issue of terrorism with links to the terrorist forces out of the country," Yin told Xinhua.
 
Beijing has long blamed much of Xinjiang's unrest on what it calls Uighur terrorists affiliated with the banned East Turkestan Islamic Movement. China says its members are trained in foreign countries.
 
Some analysts say that China exaggerates foreign involvement in the unrest and that government policies in Xinjiang and ethnic tensions are the source of the problem.

Chinese Take to Social Media to Comment on Attack
 
On social media sites reaction to the attack ranged from outrage to concern and sadness.
 
Many posted candle icons and wrote 'pray for Kunming' or expressed their solidarity with the city saying "we are all from Kunming." Kunming is popular with foreigners and is a cultural melting pot of China's rich variety of ethnic groups.
 
Some voiced concern that the bloody attacks would further stoke ethnic tensions between China's majority Han population and Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang and urged others to not blame all Uighurs for the attack. Others said the attack would only heighten their distrust of the minority group.
 
In one posting, a Weibo user by the name of Chen Yingsong (陈应松) argued that the complaints Uighurs have are not with the Han ethnic group but are more of a struggle with a few of China's Han ruling elite. He noted that those who were forced from their homes when the Three Gorges Dam was built were no different.  That post was later removed.
 
The government has not yet released any details about the ethnicity of the attackers, but the fact that were allegedly from Xinjiang raises the possibility that the government could blame separatist Muslim Uighurs for the attack as they have done in the past.
 
Well known Chinese journalist Luo Changping (罗昌平) posted a message online saying a fellow journalist friend who shared his feelings about the attack with him remarked that every time something like this happens, the Chinese government "never lets you know what happened."
 
 "It only lets you blindly hate, live in fear and ignorance and die without ever understanding anything," the post said.  The post was removed from Weibo along with other posts that raised questions about the attack.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs