Chinese Police Fire on Alleged Knife Attacker at Guangzhou Train Station

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A man who local media say is a suspect is detained after a knife attack at a railway station in Guangzhou, May 6, 2014.
A man who local media say is a suspect is detained after a knife attack at a railway station in Guangzhou, May 6, 2014.

Police opened fire during a knife attack outside a crowded railway station in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Tuesday that left six people in the hospital with knife wounds, officials said, less than a week after a deadly attack at a railway station in the restive Xinjiang region's capital.

"Today, at 11:30 a.m., someone injured passengers passing through the square in front of the Guangzhou Railway Station with a knife," Guangzhou police said in a post on their official Twitter-like account.

"The police opened fire after a verbal warning had no effect, and apprehended a male suspect carrying a knife in the midst of an attack," the Sina Weibo tweet said.

"Our initial inquiries found that six people were injured, all of whom have been taken to hospital for treatment."

Police are now investigating the attacks, it said.

Photos posted by bystanders to popular social media sites showed a police cordon and ambulances in the middle of the station forecourt, with traces of blood on the ground.

An officer who answered the phone at the railway station police station declined to comment.

"You'll have to get in touch with the city government; it's not convenient for us to answer your questions," he said.

However, repeated calls to the Guangzhou municipal police department and government press office rang unanswered during office hours on Tuesday.

Train station attacks

The attack comes just days after three people died and 79 others were injured in a knife and bomb attack at a railway station in the northwestern region of Xinjiang's capital Urumqi, in which one attacker named in official reports appeared to be a member of the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group.

Reporting on the Guangzhou attack, the ruling Chinese Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper made a comparison with the April 30 attack in Urumqi, which rocked the city as millions of people headed out for the Labor Day vacation and was blamed on "religious extremists."

It also cited a March 1 knife attack at a railway station in the southwestern city of Kunming, which was blamed on Uyghur separatists.

Chinese counterterrorism researcher Li Wei told the official China News Service that the Guangzhou railway station attacks looked as if terror was the intention.

"Railway stations and other transportation hubs have all sorts of vulnerabilities, and are often targets for violent attacks," Li said.

"They are crowded, so the attacks can create maximum havoc and terror."

Social unrest

Official media gave no further details of the identity of the suspect detained in Guangzhou, nor of the cause or motivation behind the attack.

Guangzhou rights activist Wang Aizhong said the growing number of public acts of violence are likely linked to growing inequality in Chinese society.

"This sort of incident has been happening in Xinjiang for a long time.... It's just that the Chinese Communist Party has covered it up," Wang said. "Now it's becoming more widespread, because the government has forcefully suppressed the legitimate aspirations of the people."

"There is nothing we can do except to face up to this. If China were to build a fair and just society with the rule of law, that would stop such incidents from happening all the time," he said.

"Otherwise, incidents like this are just going to happen more and more."

Major cities across China stepped up "anti-terrorism" security measures in the wake of the Urumqi attack, targeting ethnic minority Uyghurs in particular, according to a Uyghur exile group.

However, a string of recent attacks—including explosions—in public places in China in recent months have been linked to long-running social tensions and injustices that have no immediate solution, social commentators said.

Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service and by Yang Jian for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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