Three people were killed, including the assailants, and 79 wounded
in a bomb and knife attack at the station on Wednesday, according to
the government and state media, as President Xi Jinping was wrapping
up a visit to the area.
The Xinjiang regional government said on its official news website
(www.ts.cn) that the two attackers who were killed had "long been
influenced by extremist religious thought and participated in
extremist religious activities".
It identified one of them as Sedierding Shawuti, a 39-year-old man
from Xayar county in Xinjiang's Aksu region. The man is a member of
the Muslim Uighur minority, judging by his name.
It did not identify the other person. The third person who was
killed was a bystander, the government said.
The People's Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Chinese
Communist Party, said earlier on its microblog that "two mobsters
set off bombs on their bodies and died".
But the newspaper did not call it a suicide bombing.
Xinjiang, resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of
central Asia, has been beset by violence for years, blamed by the
government on Islamist militants and separatists.
Exiles and many rights groups say the real cause of the unrest is
China's heavy-handed policies, including curbs on Islam and the
culture and language of the Uighur people.
The Wednesday blast was the first bomb attack in the capital of
Xinjiang region in 17 years. It came soon after the arrival of a
train from a mainly Han Chinese province, state media said.
The Xinhua news agency earlier cited police as saying
"knife-wielding mobs" slashed at people at an exit of the station
and set off explosives.
The bombing was possibly timed to coincide with a visit to the
region with a large Muslim minority by President Xi, when security
was likely to have been heavy.
On Thursday, dozens of police vans were parked around the station,
while camouflaged police with assault rifles patrolled its entrance.
Despite the security, the station was busy and appeared to be
The government called the attackers "terrorists", a term it uses to
describe Islamist militants and separatists in Xinjiang who have
waged a sometimes violent campaign for an independent East Turkestan
State media did not say if Xi, who was wrapping up his visit to the
region, was anywhere near Urumqi at the time.
Pan Zhiping, a retired expert on Central Asia at Xinjiang's Academy
of Social Science, described the attack as well organized, saying it
was timed to coincide with Xi's visit.
"It is very clear that they are challenging the Chinese government,"
"There was a time last year when they were targeting the public
security bureau, the police stations and the troops. Now it's
indiscriminate — terrorist activities are conducted in places where
people gather the most."
There has been no claim of responsibility.
In remarks released on Thursday from Xi's trip to Xinjiang, the
president urged troops there to "strike crushing blows against
violent terrorist forces and resolutely strike against terrorists
who are swollen with arrogance".
"Resolutely crush the space for terrorist activities and contain the
spreading trend of escalation," Xi said.
"ACT OF DEFIANCE"
Nicholas Bequelin, a senior researcher at New York-based Human
Rights Watch who follows developments in Xinjiang, called the attack
"an unprecedented act of defiance from Uighurs who oppose the
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"It's hugely significant and it's extremely politically embarrassing
for Xi Jinping who has taken a very hard stance on the Xinjiang
issue, and made a big show while visiting Xinjiang that Xinjiang is
safe for the Han," he said.
It was also the largest militant attack in Urumqi since the
government blamed Uighurs for stabbing hundreds of Han Chinese with
needles in 2009.
No one was killed in that incident, but it led to protests demanding
the removal of the region's top official for failing to protect Han
people, China's majority ethnic group.
Earlier that year, almost 200 people died in ethnic riots in Urumqi.
Bombs on buses there killed nine people in 1997.
The city is heavily populated by Han Chinese, who have flooded there
seeking business opportunities. Uighurs have complained that they
have been frozen out of the job market.
"I just don't believe it was a Uighur who did this," said one
35-year-old Uighur man selling dried fruit about 100 meters from the
blast site. "These public spaces aren't safe for anyone, Uighur or
EXILES BLAME HEAVY-HANDED RULE
The attack came on the eve of a two-day Labour Day holiday, a time
of heavy travel in China.
"Everyone was running and hiding. I was terrified," said Li Tianlin,
a 53-year-old laborer. "We are still afraid and don't dare go over
to the train station."
Exiles and rights groups say the cause of unrest in Xinjiang is
heavy-handed rule by authorities, including curbs on Islam and the
culture and language of the Uighur people.
Xinhua condemned the spokesman for the German-based World Uyghur
Congress exile group for saying that "such incidents could happen
again at any time".
The spokesman, Dilxat Raxit, said in a email that more than 100
Uighurs had been detained since the attack, adding that Xi's visit
was being used by the government an excuse to step up "armed
repression" in Xinjiang.
"Any provocation by China will directly inflame the situation and
further worsen the unrest," he said.
Luo Fuyong, a spokesman for the Xinjiang government, rejected
Raxit's accusations. "This is deliberate hostile rumor-mongering,"
Luo told Reuters by telephone.
Wednesday's attack was the latest in a spate of violence blamed by
the government on Uighur militants.
In March, 29 people were stabbed to death in the southwestern city
of Kunming. Five months earlier, a car ploughed into tourists on the
edge of Beijing's Tiananmen Square, killing the car's three
occupants and two bystanders.
Unrest in Xinjiang has caused the death of more than 100 people in
the past year.
(Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee, Li Hui and Ben Blanchard,
Writing by Sui-Lee Wee; editing by Ron Popeski and Robert Birsel)
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