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Order restored as nation mourns Kunming victims

Citizens mourn at a memorial for those killed in Saturday's terrorist attack at the Kunming railway station on March 2, 2014. Photo: Hao Yaxin

Order has been restored in Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan province, where a deadly terrorist attack on Saturday night left 29 dead and more than 130 injured.

Hundreds of mourners gathered on Sunday outside Kunming Railway Station, lighting candles and laying flowers.

Security has been beefed up at the city's Changshui International Airport, with increased security personnel and tougher scrutiny of passengers and luggage.

Chinese law enforcers, who have laid the blame for the bloody attack on separatists from Northwest China's restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, are tracking suspects who stormed the station armed with knives at 9:20 pm Saturday, stabbing and slashing people at random outside the station and in the booking hall and the waiting rooms.

The foreign affairs office of the Yunnan provincial government said there were no reports that foreigners were killed or injured in the attack as of 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Neither are Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao compatriots among the victims,
Eye-witnesses recounted scenes of pandemonium and carnage as the gang swept towards the station, slashing and lunging at victims, including children, the elderly and police.
Fu Huiliang, 27, said he had been chased into a mobile phone shop by a knife-wielding man. "His hair was long and messy," Mr Fu. "I couldn't tell you where he was from."
The Chongqing Restaurant took in around 100 survivors. "They were terrified, crying. Some couldn't even speak," said the owner, who asked not to be named.

Other heroic acts of people risking their lives to aid the victims have been reported.

When a man and woman wearing masks chased Qi Wen, who was at the station seeing his family off to Anyang, Henan Province, a cellphone store owner let him and a dozen other people into his store, locking them inside.

The terrorists pointed their knives at them, then left, Qi told the Beijing News. The mother of a friend of Qi, who was also at the station, was stabbed in the back, he said.

At least four attackers were shot at the scene, and one woman was arrested. Police are seeking at least five more suspects who fled.

The attack, just two days before the country's annual parliamentary meeting, or two sessions, in Beijing, was apparently aimed at causing as much publicity and panic as possible, a senior anti-terrorism official from Beijing told the Global Times.

Yunnan Provincial No.3 People's Hospital, the closest to the station, received 29 of the most seriously wounded, most having been stabbed multiple times to the chest or stomach.


People walk on the square of the Kunming Railway Station in Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan province, March 2, 2014. The order at the railway station has been restored to normal.  Photo: Xinhua
Around 3:50 pm on Sunday, a Global Times reporter witnessed heavily armed police detain two suspects behind Yunnan Horizon Hotel in central Kunming. The two suspects apparently had Xinjiang identification documents and tried to hide behind a building. Police said that they were carrying something "very abnormal," but could not yet conclude if they were connected to the terror attack.

This is the largest terrorist attack since the July 5 riot in Xinjiang's capital city of Urumqi in 2009, in which nearly 200 civilians were killed by Uyghurs believed to be separatists.

There were at least seven terror attacks in Xinjiang last year, which mainly targeted law enforcement. But three Uyghurs ploughed a vehicle into the crowds near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in October, killing two and wounding nearly 40. Authorities said the attackers were related to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an international terrorist organization.

The choice of Yunnan for the attack may be connected to the ease of crossing the borders to neighboring countries, as Xinjiang has forbidding weather and landscapes and strict border controls, experts said.

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