China on Sunday promised tough punishment for knife-wielding attackers who killed 29 people in an unprecedented train station rampage, blaming separatists from Xinjiang, as witnesses described a city in shock. Victims spoke of black-clad attackers slashing indiscriminately as people queued to buy tickets late on Saturday at Kunming station, in an incident that lasted about half an hour.
More than 130 were wounded in the attack in the city in the south-western province of Yunnan, prompting shock and outrage nationwide. Buses and taxis ferried people to hospital. A shop worker told AFP some of the victims took refuge in her store.
“Many were crying and some looked like they had been cut. We were terrified. Everyone in Kunming is still in shock,” she said.
Police shot dead at least four attackers, arrested one and were hunting for more, said the official Xinhua news agency, which in a commentary called the incident “China’s 9/11” and a “severe crime against humanity.”
China’s security chief Meng Jianzhu, who rushed to Kunming to oversee the operation, promised “all-out efforts” to “severely punish terrorists according to the law,” Xinhua said.
He “urged forcible measures to crack down on violent terrorism activities”, it added. The Kunming city government said the attack was orchestrated by separatists from the northwest region of Xinjiang, Xinhua reported.