Beijing, 22 May-2014, Reuters: Explosives thrown from two vehicles that rammed an open market in China’s western region of Xinjiang killed and wounded an unknown number of people, the official Xinhua news agency and a witness have said.
China has blamed a series of knife and bomb attacks in recent months on separatist militants from Xinjiang, the traditional home of the ethnic Muslim Uighurs.
The cross-country vehicles rammed into shoppers in an open market in the Xinjiang capital, Urumqi, Xinhua reported, citing witness reports. Explosives were thrown out and one of the vehicles exploded.
A business owner told Xinhua he heard a dozen big bangs. The blasts occurred at an open-air morning market near Renmin Park in downtown Urumqi. Flames and heavy smoke were seen nearby while the area had been cordoned off after the blast.
Photos posted on social media, purportedly of the blast but unverified by Reuters, showed a column of smoke and chaos at the market, with bloodied people lying on the tree-lined road near small stands selling fruit, vegetables and eggs.
“There were two vehicles that drove like crazy toward the morning market … there were definitely people killed,” a witness who declined to give his name told Reuters by telephone.
“The market was total chaos, hawkers and shoppers started running everywhere… it was definitely a terrorist act. I’m so angry.”
Xinjiang has been plagued by violence for years but rights activists and exile groups say the government’s own heavyhanded policies in the region have sown the seeds of unrest.