Authorities have identified two assailants who carried out the suicide attack on Wednesday evening at Urumqi’s main railway station that left at least one bystander dead and 79 more injured. One of the men, 39-year-old Sedirdin Sawut, was influenced by “extreme” religious thoughts, according to Xinhua.
The two assailants launched a knife attack on bystanders, then “set off bombs tied on their bodies and died” SCMP relayed from a People’s Daily Weibo post. Xinhua reported that “This is a bomb explosion case of a violent terrorist nature,” although there have been no reports on whether the attackers were related to overseas groups or if police had detained any people.
The attack happened just as President Xi Jinping was ending a four-day inspection tour to the Uygur region, which security officials say is a sign that extremists were escalating confrontation with leadership in Beijing.
Xi said in a statement regarding the blast that authorities should take “decisive actions” against “terrorist attacks”.
“The battle to combat violence and terrorism will not allow even a moment of slackness, and decisive action must be taken to resolutely suppress the terrorists’ rampant momentum,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.
BBC points out that this message, along with his Labor Day congratulatory message in Xinjiang, have received prominent coverage in most Chinese newspapers and websites.
Experts quoted in the Post criticized the Xinjiang government’s inability to prevent an attack even during a visit by top leaders, calling it a “substantial security failure”.
“We are seeing the problem getting worse and slowly spreading out to all over the place,” Rafaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow with the London-based Royal United Services Institute, said.
Li Lifan, a professor of Central Asian studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said in the same report that the assailants were looking for “more attention from the international community for their cause”. Another social science worker out of Xinjiang believes that the use of bombs that could have led to the death of Uygur bystanders indicates that the assailants carrying out such attacks are getting more and more indiscriminate in their targets.
Authorities have been called upon to tighten security and be more vigilant following the March 1 stabbing spree at a Kunming railway station that left 29 people dead and around 140 injured.