A suspected assailant is taken away after the attack at a Guangzhou railway station in south China’s Guangdong province on Tuesday. (AP)
Beijing, May 6 (Reuters): A single knife-wielding assailant wounded six people in an attack today at a railway station in China’s southern city of Guangzhou, police and state media said, in the latest of a series of assaults to raise jitters around the country.
Police gave no reason for the attack, but China has grown increasingly nervous about Islamic militancy since a car burst into flames on the edge of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in October and 29 people were stabbed to death in March in the southwestern city of Kunming.
The government blamed militants from the restive far western region of Xinjiang for both those attacks. Resource-rich and strategically located Xinjiang, on the borders of central Asia, has for years been beset by violence blamed by the Chinese government on Islamist militants.
Guangzhou police “arrived quickly on the scene” today and shot one of the attackers.
Despite earlier reports on state media that up to four assailants may have been involved, Guangzhou police said on their official microblog that their initial probe found there was just a single suspect. He had been shot and wounded. “After verbal warnings were ineffective, police fired, hitting one male suspect holding a knife, and subdued him,” Guangzhou police said.
They did not identify the attacker.
State television said that reports police had picked up another suspect near the station were also wrong, and that a person who had been detained had nothing to do with the case.
Provincial television showed pictures of what it said was an apparently injured suspect being pressed to the ground by police and plainclothes security officials, as they removed a bloodied white t-shirt. It was not possible to see the person’s face.
One Guangzhou newspapers had cited witnesses as saying the attackers carried half-metre knives and wore white clothes, including white hats.
Another newspaper had quoted a store owner who claimed he had witnessed the violence as saying the suspects squatted on the ground next to his shop for about two hours before carrying out their attack.
Photos circulated online in state media showed police cordoning off an empty plaza, with an ambulance parked nearby and bloodspots on the ground.
Speaking while on a visit to Hong Kong, US assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs Daniel Russel expressed “horror, outrage and sympathy” at the Guangzhou attack.
“We oppose terrorism in all forms, and in those instances where the available information or the information shared by the Chinese authorities pointed to terrorism by a group or individual, we have condemned it as terrorism,” he said.