A Uyghur baker under police investigation killed five people in Xinjiang’s Kashgar prefecture earlier this month after being brought to a hospital for medical care, sources in the region said.
Memet Eli, aged about 30, used an axe to carry out his Feb. 9 attack, also injuring an unknown number of people, sources told RFA’s Uyghur Service.
“The attack took place in Yengisar [county] hospital,” a police officer in the county’s Saghan township said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Memet Eli had vomited blood the day before, and Abduhalik, the security chief in the village where Eli was under investigation, took him to the hospital for a checkup.”
Leaving Eli waiting in line, Abduhalik went to get some food, and when he returned, “Eli suddenly confronted him and hit him in the head with an axe,” the source said.
“After that, he attacked two Chinese shopkeepers—one the owner of a pharmacy and the other the owner of a food store—and after that he rushed back into the hospital and killed a nurse inside,” he said.
Also speaking to RFA, Ablikim, deputy director of the Yengisar Hospital, confirmed the attack had taken place, adding that Eli was captured alive shortly afterward.
“It happened at around 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 9,” he said. “I was outside the hospital when it happened.”
“I later learned that Zhang Caixia, one of our nurses, was among the people killed in the attack, while several were wounded.”
“I took two of the wounded to Kerambagh Hospital, a prefectural hospital located in Kashgar city, and one of them—a shop owner—died there,” he said.
Eli, a resident of Yengisar’s Setil township, had recently been forcibly returned from Korla city by police for investigation, and was undergoing “political re-education,” township security chief Yusup Mesum told RFA.
“He had vomited blood in the village office on the morning of the day before the attack, and that is why the security chief took him to the hospital for a checkup,” Mesum said.
“We don’t know if he got the axe from his home before visiting the hospital, or whether he bought it from a nearby market. None of this is clear, and different explanations are circulating on the streets.”
Eli is believed to have eight children from two different marriages, Mesum said.
“Right now, all his family members and officials in his village have been detained for investigation.”
China has vowed to crack down on what it calls religious extremism in Xinjiang, and regularly conducts “strike hard” campaigns including police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people, including videos and other material.
While China blames Uyghur extremists for terrorist attacks, experts outside China say Beijing has exaggerated the threat from the Uyghurs and that repressive domestic policies are responsible for an upsurge in violence there that has left hundreds dead since 2009.
Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Mamatjan Juma. Written in English by Richard Finney.