Three suspects connected to the Kunming stabbing attack on March 1st were arrested after attempting to detonate an explosive in another region of Yunnan on February 27th, two days before the massacre. Five individuals escaped police capture on the 27th and fled to Kunming, where they committed the attack.
An anonymous source gave this information to the Global Times, and it appears as though authorities are doing a good job piecing together the events that led up to the March 1 attack:
The group had planned to participate in jihad overseas but was unable to cross the border, so they plotted to launch jihad at transport terminals in either Kunming or Honghe, according to Qin Guangrong […]
Many commented online that local police should be held responsible.
“They could have foreseen the attack coming and prevented it. They already caught three of them two days before March 1,” said a Net user surnamed Gao.
“Overseas” is a big place, and the Global Times is not specific about the plotter’s goals, other than to say that they failed. Much of this should be taken with a grain of salt, as an “anynomous source” printed by state-run media could mean any number of things, but the basic narrative seems to be that the attacker’s original intent was to use a bomb outside of China and when—due to the bomb’s failure to detonate and the local authorities’ capture of three individuals involved—their plan collapsed, they fled to Kunming and decided to attack the crowded train station.
[Photo of Kunming station via Global Times]