A bomb attack at a railway station in Urumqi, the Chinese regional capital of Xinjiang, has killed three people and injured 79 others. The attack came after President Xi finished a four-day trip to Xinjiang in which he promised to increase anti-terrorism efforts.
At around 7 pm local time yesterday "Knife-wielding mobs" attacked the train station and set off the blast. Footage of the aftermath shown on Chinese media showed debris and luggage strewn around the station.
Officials blamed Muslim Uighur separatists for the attack. In March, a knife attack at Kunming railway station by Uighur terrorists killed 29 people. There are 10 million ethnic Uighurs, mostly Muslim, in the vast province of Xinjiang.
The most prominent Islamic terrorist group operating in the region is the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is fighting for an independent state in Xinjiang and regions of other neighboring countries.
In 2009, after ethnic riots in Urumqi between Uighurs and Han Chinese, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb vowed to lynch Chinese workers in Algeria and North Africa, of which there are 50,000.
Last week, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair highlighted the international links between terrorist groups in a keynote speech saying, "Terrorist attacks are regular occurrences in Russia, whose Muslim population is now over 15%, and radical influences are stretching across the whole of the central part of Northern Asia, reaching even the Western province of Xinjiang in China."
Blair said that radical Islamist ideology was the common denomitor between these separate groups and that it posed a gl0bal threat. He called on the West to work with China and Russia in combatting Islamic terrorism.
"There is a complete identity of interest between East and West. China and Russia have exactly the same desire to defeat this ideology as do the USA and Europe," Blair said. "Here is a subject upon which all the principal nations of the G20 could come together, could agree to act and could find common ground to common benefit," he added.
President Xi had used his tour to demonstrate his firm commitment to counter-terrorism, while encouraging greater ethnic integration. Among other things he called on Han Chinese teachers to learn the Uighur language.
After the attack, the president told the Chinese state news agency Xinhua: "The battle to combat violence and terrorism will not allow even a moment of slackness, and decisive actions must be taken to resolutely suppress the terrorists’ rampant momentum."