Fear and anger as China reflects on attack

KUNMING: Defiant residents of the Chinese city where 29 people died in a mass stabbing queued to donate blood Monday, while others vented anger at what authorities say was a terrorist attack by separatists from Xinjiang.

Chinese Internet users accused the US of double standards after Washington condemned the bloody rampage in Kunming by knife-wielding attackers but refrained from calling it a terrorist incident. More than 130 were injured.

Officials have blamed separatists from Xinjiang, the far western Chinese region home to the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority.

Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters: “Some East Turkestan flags were found on the scene,” referring to a group Beijing regards as a separatist terrorist movement.

Hong Kong broadcaster Phoenix TV showed images of a dark blue flag embroidered with the Islamic declaration of faith, said to have been found by police.

In Kunming, a taxi driver said she would stay away from the train station where the violence occurred, underscoring the tense sense of fear in the southwestern city.

She then launched into an anti-Uighur tirade.

“I won’t let them into my taxi. They are all drug addicts and everyone outside Xinjiang distrusts them,” she said, refusing to give her name.

“They are trouble. Most people thought like this before, so you can imagine what people think now,” she added, pounding her steering wheel for emphasis.

Xinjiang is periodically hit by violent clashes between members of the Uighur minority and security forces, which China blames on terrorist groups seeking independence for the region.

But attacks targeting civilians are rarer and almost unheard of in Yunnan province, which is more than 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) from Xinjiang and a popular tourist destination.

The attack, which prompted shock and outrage nationwide, has been dubbed “China’s 9/11” by state media and security has been tightened at transport terminals across the country.

It came just days before the annual meeting of China’s parliament. An associated debating chamber session opened Monday with a period of silence for the victims.

Police maintained a prominent presence on the streets of Kunming, two days after attackers slashed indiscriminately at people queueing to buy tickets at the busy railway terminal.

Armed guards remained on duty at the station, although the temporary waiting area that was sealed off Sunday had reopened.