Beijing - Six people were wounded in a knife attack at a railway station in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Tuesday, police said, the latest in a series of such assaults that have raised jitters around the country.
Police gave no reason for the attack, but China's nervousness about Islamic militancy has grown 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 south-western 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” on Tuesday and shot one of the attackers. Reports in state media said another person was on the run.
“After verbal warnings were ineffective, police fired, hitting one male suspect holding a knife and subdued him,” Guangzhou police said on an official microblog.
They did not identify the attackers and it was not clear if the number of wounded included the assailants.
City newspaper the Guangzhou Journal wrote on its microblog that the attackers carried half-metre knives, wore white clothes, including white hats, and launched their assault as passengers were leaving the station.
Some other reports on Chinese media outlets' microblogs said there were four attackers in total.
The official Guangzhou Daily, citing a store owner who witnessed the violence, said the suspects squatted on the ground next to his shop for about two hours, covering their baggage with clothing.
They suddenly let out a shout, pulled out knives from their bags, and began attacking people, it said on its microblog. Police were on the scene within minutes and began firing warning shots, it added.
Photos circulated online in state media showed police cordoning off an empty plaza. There was an ambulance parked there and spots of blood on the ground. An investigation was under way, police said.
China blamed religious extremists for a bomb and knife attack at a train station in Urumqi, regional capital of Xinjiang, last Wednesday that killed one bystander and wounded 79.
The government called the attackers “terrorists”, a term it uses to describe Islamist militants and separatists in Xinjiang who have waged a sometimes violent campaign for an independent East Turkestan state.
Exiles and many rights groups say the real cause of the unrest in Xinjiang is China's heavy-handed policies, including curbs on Islam and the culture and language of the Muslim Uighur people.
Beijing is unhappy at the US State Department's 2013 country reports on terrorism, published last month, which said China's co-operation on fighting terrorism “remained marginal” and that the Chinese provided scarce evidence to prove terrorist involvement in incidents in Xinjiang. - Reuters