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KUNMING ATTACK: Xi orders crackdown after deadly terror attack in Kunming
Publication Date : 03-03-2014
Major security crackdown on those behind Saturday's bloody attack at a railway station in Kunming city, which left 29 dead and over 140 injured
President Xi Jinping has ordered a major security crackdown to nab those behind Saturday's bloody attack - blamed on Xinjiang separatists - that left 29 civilians dead and more than 140 others injured at a railway station in southwestern Kunming city.
In one of the country's worst terrorist attacks in recent memory, a group of about 10 knife-wielding attackers, including at least two women, went on a rampage, just days before Beijing enters its politically sensitive annual legislative session.
Security chief Meng Jianzhu, who rushed to Kunming to oversee the operation, was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying that all-out efforts would be undertaken "to severely punish terrorists according to the law".
On Saturday night, police shot and killed four assailants and arrested a fifth, a woman. They are now hunting for the rest, who were reportedly dressed in black, with some donning masks.
China's security authorities blame Muslim Uighurs from the restive Xinjiang region for the attack. Observers say details emerging from media reports show that the attackers were Uighurs, who oppose what they deem as oppressive and unfair Chinese rule.
It would be the second terrorist attack mounted outside Xinjiang and one that is on a larger scale than that in Beijing last October.
During that attack, a car carrying three Uighurs ploughed into a crowd and went up in flames near Tiananmen Square. The trio were killed, as were two tourists. More than 40 other people were hurt.
China called it a terrorist attack orchestrated by Xinjiang separatists, with help from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.
Analysts say the latest attack aims to distract China from pursuing and implementing a comprehensive reform agenda at the annual session of the National People's Congress, or Parliament, starting on Wednesday. But the psychological impact of the attack may be more severe, they add.
Xinjiang expert Barry Sautman of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology told The Straits Times that he believes Kunming was picked because it was far from Xinjiang and not symbolic like Tiananmen Square.
Thus, a key aim of the attack is to "create panic among the civilian population and show that the terrorists can strike anywhere, any time", he added.
"It is very difficult for the authorities anywhere to stop terrorism of the kind manifested in Kunming," he said.