An explosion hit the railway station of the capital city of China’s far-western Xinjiang “autonomous region” on Wednesday evening, state media reported, hours after President Xi Jinping wrapped up a four-day visit to the troubled frontier province home to minority Uighur Muslims.
The blast, reported at 7 pm local time (4.30 pm IST) at the Urumqi south railway station’s exit, was powerful enough for people at a nearby hotel to report feeling “an earthquake”, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The station is Xinjiang’s largest. As of late Wednesday evening, the number of casualties was unclear, Xinhua said.
The incident takes place less than two months after Uighur extremists carried out a knife attack on a railway station in south-western Yunnan province, killing 29 and injuring more than 100.
Wednesday’s explosion took place in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, on a day when the city was under more than the usual security presence: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday morning chaired a meeting with local officials, before wrapping up a visit to the region.
During his visit, Mr. Xi pledged to crack down hard on terrorism.
He visited a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military area command in Kashgar, the old Silk Road town near China’s borders with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, describing the Kashgar region as “the frontline in anti-terrorism and maintaining social stability”.
Kashgar and Hotan — located further south near China’s border with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) — have seen intermittent violence, from bombs in market places to knife attacks on restaurants.