Beijing: China yesterday blamed an unprecedented ‘terrorist attack’ by knife-wielding assailants at a railway station that killed 33 people and injured over 130 on Islamist militants from the volatile Xinjiang province and described the slashing rampage as the country’s 9/11.

Candle Tribute: Mourners light candles at the scene of the terror attack at the main train station in Kunming, China. Pic/AFP

It was a macabre night at the crowded Kunming railway station,  when a group of black-clad knife and sword-wielding attackers, including two women, mowed down people at random, sending shock waves across the nation which prides itself in its watertight security.

Police fatally shot four attackers, including a woman, during the mass knife-attack which went on for 25 minutes in Kunming, the capital of southwest Yunnan province.

They are searching for at least five more attackers.

Over 10 terrorist suspects were involved. One more female suspect has been arrested and is being treated in hospital.
Evidence at the crime scene showed that the attack was orchestrated by separatist forces from Xinjiang, home to the mostly-Muslim Uygur minority, an official from the municipal government of Kunming said.

“Nothing justifies civilian slaughter in China’s 9/11,” state-run Xinhua news agency said in a commentary. “It was a typical terrorist attack and also a severe crime against humanity. It was China’s ‘9/11’,” it said.

It is the first time militants from the banned East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) from Xinjiang have been blamed for carrying out such a large-scale attack from their remote homeland.