Involvement of foreign groups seen in Xinjiang attack

Five assailants who drove explosives-laden vans and “blew themselves up” were behind Thursday's deadly attack on a market in China's western Xinjiang region that left at least 31 people killed and 94 injured, State media reported on Friday.

The attack, the deadliest in Xinjiang's recent history, was carried out by “five attackers” who died in the attack, the Communist Party-run Global Times reported, adding that investigations were continuing to see if any accomplices were at large.

The attackers drove at least two Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) into a crowded morning market in Urumqi, the provincial capital, and also hurled bombs as they ploughed through the streets, witnesses said. Authorities suspect the hand of extremist Islamist groups in the attack. The two SUVs were sporting flags with characters in the local Uighur language, a witness told the Global Times.

The bomb blasts shattered a crowded open vegetable market right in the heart of downtown Urumqi, a city that is usually under tight security as the capital of the Muslim-majority “autonomous region” that has seen intermittent ethnic riots and attacks. The blasts took place at 7.50 a.m. local time (4.20 am IST) on Thursday.

The attack was the latest – and most brazen – of a string of recent incidents linked to extremist Islamist groups in Xinjiang. Earlier this month, at least three people were killed and 79 others injured as armed assailants stabbed people at Urumqi’s railway station. A similar attack left at least 29 people killed in Kunming, in southwestern Yunnan province, in March.

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