Skip to main content

Knife-wielding attackers kill 29, injure 130 at China train station

By Ralph Ellis, CNN
updated 10:20 PM EST, Sun March 2, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "We saw two people carrying big cleavers hacking whoever is in the way"
  • NEW: Police say separatist group from northwest China to blame
  • At least 29 are killed, 130 wounded
  • Four suspects reported killed

(CNN) -- Lu Haiyan said the slaughter began while she and a friend were standing in the ticket hall of a Chinese train station.

"Suddenly, many people started running around crazily," she said on Tencent Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter. "We saw two people carrying big cleavers hacking whoever is in the way. They almost got to my back. Then I lost contact with (my friend) and I saw blood splashing in front of me."

Twenty-nine people were killed and 130 were injured Saturday night when 10 men armed with long knives stormed the station in the southwest Chinese city of Kunming, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

Members of a separatist group from Xinjiang, in northwest China, are believed to have carried out the assault, authorities said. The report referred to them as "terrorists."

Police said they killed at least four attackers and shot and wounded a female suspect. Authorities were searching for other suspects.

Map shows location of attack  Map shows location of attack
Map shows location of attackMap shows location of attack
Luggage lies scattered inside the Kunming Railway Station in Kunming, the capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, on Saturday, March 1, after an attack left at least 29 dead and more than 100 injured. Luggage lies scattered inside the Kunming Railway Station in Kunming, the capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, on Saturday, March 1, after an attack left at least 29 dead and more than 100 injured.
Deadly China railway attack
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
Photos: Deadly China railway attack Photos: Deadly China railway attack
Mass stabbing at Chinese rail station

The killing spree came out of nowhere.

Yang Haifei, a resident of Yunnan, told Xinhua he was buying a ticket when a group of people, most of them in black, rushed into the station with knives.

"I saw a person come straight at me with a long knife and I ran away with everyone," he said, adding that people who were slower were severely injured. "They just fell on the ground."

He said he sustained injuries to his chest and back.

Lu Haiyan said she ran to the main road.

"I ran to a restaurant already with a full crowd," she said. "The restaurant owner shut the door for quite some time before reopening it. Both my hands and legs are shaking."

Xinhua quoted a 50-year-old woman whose older husband was among those killed.

"Why are the terrorists so cruel?" said Chen Guizhen, holding her husband's bloodied ID card.

In the aftermath, postings on Sina Weibo, another Twitter-like social medium, showed local police patrolling the station, with bodies in blood lying on the ground. Chinese state TV showed investigators putting a knife with a blade at least 2 feet long into an evidence bag.

Mass knife attacks are not unprecedented in China. Some occurred in 2010 and 2012, but the attacks happened at schools and didn't appear to have political connections.

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged law enforcement "to investigate and solve the case and punish the terrorists in accordance with the law," according to Xinhua.

Xinhua said the Kunming railway station is one of the largest in southwest China.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang asked local authorities to ensure safety at public places, Xinhua reported.

Two weeks ago, 11 "terrorists" died in the Xinjiang region, Xinhua reported.

Frequent outbreaks of violence have beset Xinjiang, a resource-rich area where the arrival of waves of Han Chinese people over the decades has fueled tensions with the Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking, predominantly Muslim ethnic group.

CNN's Phil Gast contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
A smuggler in Dandong, a Chinese border town near North Korea, tells CNN about the underground trade with North Korean soldiers
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Yenn Wong got quite a surprise one morning earlier this month when she found out an exact copy of her Hong Kong restaurant had opened in China.
updated 11:15 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
When I first came across a "virtual lover" service on e-commerce site Taobao, China's version of Amazon, I thought it was hype.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Each year Yi Jiefeng does what she can to stop China turning into a desert.
updated 10:54 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
As its relationship with the West worsen, Russia is pivoting east in an attempt to secure business with China.
updated 10:29 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
Aspiring Chinese comics performing in Shanghai's underground comedy scene hope to bring stand-up to the masses.
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Liu Wen is one of the world's highest-paid models and the first Chinese face to crack the top five in Forbes' annual list of top earners.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Fri October 3, 2014
Cunning wolf? Working class hero? Or bland Beijing loyalist? C.Y. Leung was a relative unknown when he came to power in 2012.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
 A man uses his smartphone on July 16, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Only 53.5% of Japanese owned smartphones in March, according to a white paper released by the Ministry of Communications on July 15, 2014. The survey of a thousand participants each from Japan, the U.S., Britain, France, South Korea and Singapore, demonstrated that Japan had the fewest rate of the six; Singapore had the highest at 93.1%, followed by South Korea at 88.7%, UK at 80%, and France at 71.6%, and U.S. at 69.6% in the U.S. On the other hand, Japan had the highest percentage of regular mobile phone owners with 28.7%. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
App hopes to help those seeking a way out of China's overstrained public health system.
updated 8:20 PM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Yards from pro-democracy protests, stands the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's armed forces.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
The massive street rallies that have swept Hong Kong present a major dilemma for China's leadership.
updated 3:07 AM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
Chinese wine drinkers need to develop a taste for the cheap stuff, not just premium red wines like Lafite.
updated 9:09 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, set off a media kerfuffle this month when he spoke about his next reincarnation.
updated 10:18 AM EDT, Sun September 28, 2014
He's one of the fieriest political activists in Hong Kong — he's been called an "extremist" by China's state-run media — and he's not old enough to drive.
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
China has no wine-making tradition but the country now uncorks more bottles of red than any other.
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Christians in eastern China keep watch in Wenzhou, where authorities have demolished churches and removed crosses.
updated 1:38 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Home-grown hip-hop appeals to a younger generation but its popularity has not translated into record deals and profits for budding rap artists.
ADVERTISEMENT