Chinese police have launched a manhunt to capture five militants from Xinjiang who reportedly fled after taking part in the deadly knife attacks at a railway station in Kunming city in which 33 people were killed and 143 others injured.
Four of the attackers were killed, while one woman militant who was injured was captured after the incident yesterday. A search is on for the other militants, stated to be from the banned separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an al-Qaeda-backed outfit.
ETIM, is active in the northwestern Xinjiang province which has witnessed deep ethnic unrest between native Muslim Uyghurs and Han settlers from mainland China in recent years. The Kunming municipal government said that evidence at the crime scene showed that the Kunming station attack was orchestrated by separatist forces from Xinjiang.
No further details have been given.
Thirty-three people including four militants were killed in the attacks and 143 injured, 33 of them seriously. A group of 10 attackers hailing from Xinjiang attacked the crowed with large knives hacking people indiscriminately, Chinese security officials said. The attack lasted about 25 minutes after which the remaining militants escaped.
Meanwhile, a semblance of normalcy has returned to Kunming city after the gruesome knife attacks. Order has been restored in Kunming, capital of southwest China’s Yunnan Province, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. At the train station where the attacks happened, train arrivals resumed yesterday after three trains were disrupted. Part of a major road in front of the railway station is still under traffic control and a waiting area on a square east of the station has been cordoned off.
With a heavy police presence, normal operations have resumed and passengers can walk into and out of the station with no new restrictions. Security screening of passengers and luggage is being carried out and staff are maintaining order in more crowded areas.
Security has been beefed up at the city’s Changshui International Airport, with increased security personnel and tougher scrutiny of passengers and luggage. The foreign affairs office of the Yunnan provincial government said there were no reports that foreigners were killed or injured in the attacks. Neither are Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao citizens among the victims.
President Xi Jinping has ordered law enforcement agencies to strike out with full force and bring those accountable to justice as as soon as possible. Xi urged the greatest efforts to treat the injured and help those who have lost their loved ones. Premier Li Keqiang has ordered police forces nationwide to beef up security, particularly at public places of big crowds.
Senior Chinese security official Meng Jianzhu is in Kunming overseeing the security situation. Separately, the city’s education authorities said all local middle and primary schools will open as normal on Monday but with enhanced security. School officials will be on duty before and after class and police officers will be patrolling school campuses and surrounding areas. Following reports of shortage of blood for the injured, more than 2,000 Kunming citizens have donated 560,000 millilitres of blood so far.
A total of 27 medical experts have been dispatched to Kunming to help the treatment of victims, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said on Monday. The experts were recruited from 12 hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou and other cities.