Police and firefighters arrive at the railway station where the attack took place, April 30. (Photo/CNA)
Three people were confirmed dead and 79 others were injured in a terrorist attack at a railway station in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Wednesday evening.
Four people were seriously injured but are in stable condition, said the publicity department of the regional committee of the Communist Party of China.
An initial police investigation showed knife-wielding mobs slashed at members of the public at the exit of the South Railway Station of Urumqi and set off explosives, it added.
All of the injured have been sent to hospitals for treatment and a police investigation is ongoing. The attack occurred at around 7:10pm, with an explosion in the area between the station exit and a bus stop on BRT route 1. Some luggage and damaged motorcycles were left at the scene.
Chinese president Xi Jinping has urged "decisive action" against violent terrorist attacks, after the blast.
"The battle to combat violence and terrorism will not allow even a moment of slackness, and decisive action must be taken to resolutely suppress the terrorists' rampant momentum," Xi said.
Xi demanded profound awareness of the Xinjiang separatist forces and said that the anti-separatism battle in Xinjiang is long-term, complicated and acute.
A naan bread vendor told Xinhua that he heard two large bangs. "The explosion was so powerful that I thought it was an earthquake," a man at a nearby hotel told Xinhua.
The injured were sent to Xinjiang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital and Xinjiang People's Hospital, both about 4 kilometers from the station, according to police.
Zhang Bin was picking up friends at the exit, when he heard a bang and tumbled onto the ground, he told Xinhua in hospital.
He struggled to stand up and saw many others fall down. With his left arm bleeding and an injured hip, he followed along with the crowd and called his family before he was sent to the Xinjiang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital.
"I never expected such a thing could happen to me. If this was deliberate, I can't understand why they hurt innocent people?" said Zhang.
Zhang shared a ward with another two injured, a 24-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman.
The young man, obviously still gripped by fear, told Xinhua that he could barely remember what had happened at the station.
Citizens of Xinjiang strongly condemned the latest terrorist attack.
"Any attempt to create social instability is doomed to fail," said Zhang Jian, a resident in the Tianshan district of Urumqi.
Xinjiang is has good development opportunities with a remarkable improvement of living standards of all ethnic groups, he said.
Social stability is a precondition for a happy life, said Ahmolla Seydul, a village official in Hami in eastern Xinjiang.
"We will never allow any evil force to hinder our pursuit of happiness," he said.
Wang Ping, a professor of ethnic minority studies at Xinjiang Normal University, said all attempts to sabotage peace and orchestrate terrorist violence must be severely condemned.
Police cordoned off all entrances to the station square after the blast. People were evacuated and trains were suspended.
The station resumed normal operations at around 9pm as passengers re-entered the waiting halls under the guidance of armed police.
The BRT1 route to the railway station has also resumed normal operations, said Yang Hongjun, general manager of Urumqi City High-speed Public Traffic Company.
The company has strengthened security checks at bus stops, Yang told Xinhua late Wednesday.
The station is one of the three railway stations in the city, and the largest in Xinjiang. Xinjiang intercity railway lines linking Urumqi with the cities of Kuytun, Shihezi and Karamay were expected to start operations on Thursday and an opening ceremony is planned.
Terrorist attacks have increased in Xinjiang in recent years and have also targeted places outside Xinjiang.
On March 1, knife-wielding assailants killed 29 civilians and injured another 143 at a railway station in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming in March. Evidence linked the attack to separatists from Xinjiang.
Xinjiang was also hit by violent terrorist attacks in the past year. In an incident last June, rioters killed 24 people in the region's Lukqun township.
During an inspection tour to Xinjiang which ended on Wednesday, President Xi said that long-term stability in Xinjiang was vital to the whole country's stability and national security.