29 dead in rail station attack, China blames separatists (Roundup)

Beijing, March 2: At least 29 people were killed Saturday night by knife-wielding men in Yunnan province of China leaving the country dazed and its leaders calling for a crackdown on terrorism.

A group of men launched an attack at one of the country’s largest railway stations in Kunming city, Xinhua reported.

Over 130 people were also injured in the attack, officials said, adding that it was an organised, premeditated terrorist attack.

Yang Haifei, who was attacked and sustained injuries on his chest and back, said he was buying a ticket when a group of people rushed into the station, most of them dressed in black, and started attacking people.

“I saw a person come straight at me with a long knife and I ran away with everyone,” he said.

Legislators and political advisors Sunday said the attack was carried out by separatists from the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region and called for a crackdown on terrorism.

“We should launch a nationwide campaign against such terrorist activities,” Xinhua quoted Yin Zhuo, director of a committee of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, as saying.

“The attack was not an issue of ethnicity or religion, it was an issue of terrorism with links to forces outside the country,” said Yin, who is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Kunming is the capital of Yunnan, which is seen as the country’s gateway to south Asia.

Chen Shu, a lawmaker in the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislature, urged a “quick and harsh crackdown on terrorist activists”.

“The attack against innocent civilians was a crime against humanity. All countries should join hands to fight terrorist activities like this one,” he said.

Muhanmetemin Yasin, a member of the NPC standing committee, said the attackers were enemies of all ethnic groups in China.

“As a country governed by law, we should severely punish those criminals and protect the interests of the people and the nation,” said Yasin, who is from Xinjiang.

The terrorists’ aim was to instigate hatred and disunity among different ethnic groups and sabotage the country’s stability, said Ashar Tursun, another lawmaker from Xinjiang.

“The anti-separatism battle in Xinjiang is long-term, complicated and arduous. We should be united and focus on Xinjiang’s social and economic development,” he said.

IANS