• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 8:55am

Kunming railway station attack

On March 1, 2014, dozens of commuters were killed and more than a hundred others injured when a gang of knife-wielding attackers rampaged through Kunming railway station in Yunnan province, China. Authorities blamed "separatist forces from Xinjiang" for the deadly attack. Four of the alleged assailants were shot dead by police at the scene.


One female suspect in custody after 33 are killed in Kunming station massacre

One female suspected attacker caught by police, four others shot dead

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 March, 2014, 12:32am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 March, 2014, 7:58pm

At least 33 people were killed and more than 140 wounded after a group of knife-wielding attackers dressed in black went on the rampage in a Kunming railway station, hacking and stabbing passengers and passers-by indiscriminately.

The death toll includes 29 civilian victims killed by the attackers and four alleged assailants shot dead by responding police, according to state media. One injured policeman was reported to have died on Sunday afternoon, said China's ministry of public security, although it later withdrew the confirmation. 

Online postings by witnesses said the attackers took out long knives and began hacking “crazily” at people shortly after 9pm on Saturday, chasing terrified victims through the station, leaving bodies in their wake.

Watch: Xinjiang separatists behind deadly China rail attack: Xinhua

Horror at the railway station: eyewitnesses tell of Kunming slaughter

State broadcaster CCTV said earlier that three of the four alleged attackers killed by police were male, and one female.

Another female suspected was wounded by police fire and sent to a hospital for emergency surgeries, it said. Some eyewitness accounts on social media say there were more than a dozen attackers.

On Sunday, Xinhua quoted Kunming officials as saying that initial investigations suggested the deadly attack was "planned and organised by separatist forces from Xinjiang," the restive western autonomous region which has seen many similar attacks against civilians and police in recent years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for "all-out efforts" in the investigation and for the attackers to be punished "in accordance with the law", Xinhua said.

"Understand the serious and complex nation of combating terrorism. Go all out to maintain social stability," it quoted Xi as saying.

China's top security official Meng Jianzhu, who arrived in Kunming early on Sunday morning to oversee the police investigation, said: "All-out efforts should be made to treat the injured people, severely punish terrorists according to the law, and prevent the occurrence of similar cases, to ensure the safety of people's lives and property and social stability."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations on Sunday strongly condemned the attack.

“The Secretary-General notes that there is no justification for the killing of innocent civilians and hopes that those responsible will be brought to justice,” said a statement released by the United Nations.

The attack came ahead of the opening of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on Monday and the National People’s Congress on Wednesday.

This is traditionally the most politically sensitive time of the year, with the government eager to maintain stability and paint a rosy picture as thousands of delegates and government leaders head to the capital.

One knife victim named Yang Haifei, who was wounded in the chest and back, told Xinhua that he had been buying a train ticket when the attackers approached and had tried to escape with the crowd.

"I saw a person come straight at me with a long knife and I ran away with everyone," he said, while others "simply fell on the ground".

Some who had escaped were desperately looking for missing loved ones. "I can't find my husband, and his phone went unanswered," Yang Ziqing was quoted as saying.

She said she had been waiting for her train to Shanghai "when a knife-wielding man suddenly came at them".

State television showed police wrapping a long, sword-like knife in a plastic bag, amid heavy security at the station.

Graphic pictures posted on weibo showed victims lying in pools of blood inside and outside the station, while others showed blood, luggage and clothes scattered on the floor of the ticket hall.

Such violence is extremely rare in Kunming, the usually peaceful capital of Yunnan.

One online posting said the attackers had been five young men dressed in black uniforms. The police did not specify their number, or their ethnicity or motives, although some online postings alleged they were Uygurs.

A hotel worker told the Sunday Morning Post last night she heard the same rumour from people who took refuge in her hotel. “People are rushing towards our hotel. We heard that the attackers are dressed in black, and they are Uygurs.”

Although the police said they shot dead the assailants she said the city was in panic.

“Our guests who walked passed the train station told us not to leave the hotel because the situation is dangerous. We dare not leave the hotel right now. There are many police outside. We just fear that not all the attackers have been caught.”

A microblogger named “HuangY3xin-Dione”, who was dining in a restaurant near the station, said she was “scared to death”, adding that she saw a group of men in black with two long knives chasing people.

Another hotel employee told the Post that a number of roads had been cordoned off.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang sent condolences to the victims and their families.

China has been hit by a series of violent incidents in recent months, but most of them were in restive Xinjiang, with authorities blaming Uygur separatists.

Incidents involving Uygurs are often labelled "terrorist attacks" while others carried out by Chinese seen as having grievances against society or the authorities are not.

In a high-profile incident in Beijing last October, three Uygur family members set their car on fire at Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of the Chinese state, killing themselves and two bystanders.

Hu Xijin, editor of the influential Global Times newspaper, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, wrote on his Weibo feed that the government should say who it suspected of the attack as soon as possible.

"If it was Xinjiang separatists, it needs to be announced promptly, as hearsay should not be allowed to fill the vacuum," Hu wrote.


Chronology of key events related to the restive region since 2009:


June 25 Two Uighur factory workers are reported killed and dozens injured in a huge brawl with Han Chinese in Shaoguan, in the southern province of Guangdong.

July 5 Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Uighurs riot in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi after security forces move in on a protest over the Shaoguan incident.

July 7 The government says nearly 200 people died in the unrest, with more than 1,600 injured and hundreds arrested. Eventually at least 26 are reportedly sentenced to death.

September 2 -- Han residents of Urumqi protest for days over a wave of syringe stabbings which the government eventually says had nearly 500 victims, blaming “ethnic separatist forces”.


July 18 Police kill 20 protesters in clashes in Hotan, southern Xinjiang, exiled Uighur groups say. State media say police fired on demonstrators who attacked a police station, killing one officer.

July 31-August 1 Two attacks by alleged terrorists leave 13 people dead in a Han Chinese section of Kashgar, while police kill eight suspected Uighur separatists.

September 15 Courts in Xinjiang sentence to death four Uighurs over the July incidents.

December 28 Police in Pishan kill seven “terrorists” in a hostage standoff that left one officer dead. State media calls them terrorists engaged in a “holy war”.


February 28 Rioters armed with knives kill at least 10 people in Yecheng, while police shoot two of the attackers dead, state press say. One man is later sentenced to death.


April 23 Gunfights in Bachu leave 15 police and community workers and six “terrorists” dead. Two men are later sentenced to death.

June 26 At least 35 people are killed when, according to Xinhua, “knife-wielding mobs” attack police stations and other sites in Lukqun before security personnel open fire. Three people are later sentenced to death.

August 20 A Chinese policeman is killed in what state media call an “anti-terrorism” operation in Yilkiqi. Overseas media report 22 Uighurs were shot dead.

October 28 Three members of the same Xinjiang family crash their car into tourists in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the symbolic heart of the Chinese state, killing two, before setting it on fire and dying themselves, according to authorities who call it a terrorist attack.

November 17 Two policemen and nine attackers are killed at a police station in Serikbuya, state media say. Rights groups say the trigger was the fatal shooting of a Uighur youth during a protest.

December 16 14 Uighurs and two police officers are killed in Shufu county. Authorities describe the slain Uighurs as members of an extremist group, but campaigners say police raided a house where a family was preparing for a wedding, with six women among those killed.

December 30 An assault on a police station in Yarkand leaves eight attackers dead, according to the Xinjiang government’s official website.


January 15 A prominent Uighur academic and critic of government policy, economics lecturer Ilham Tohti, is detained by police, his wife says, and later charged with separatism, which can carry the death penalty.

January 25 A total of 12 people have been killed in Xinhe, six in explosions and six shot dead by police dealing with “violent incidents”, a government-run news portal says.

February 14 A total of 11 people die in an attack on police in Wushi, with officers shooting eight dead and three blowing themselves up, authorities say.

March 1 At least 29 people are killed and more than 130 wounded by knife-wielding assailants at Kunming train station in Yunnan province, more than 1,600 kilometres from Xinjiang. Officials blame separatist terrorists from Xinjiang.


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This article is now closed to comments

@ianson: Please don't mix things up. The US's homicide rate, lunatic or otherwise, is a leader in the developed world and that is a fact which has relevance to human rights in a broader sense. Regarding the Kunming attack, before any further info emerges, we don't know yet if it was a lunatic attack or a terrorist one. Think before you write; otherwise you just make yourself look like a ranting moron.
Sad news. China needs to increase the number of police on beat. Rare to see them in the cities compared to HK.

We need to take this country back. During Mr. Mao's time, there was nothing of this sort. Creating a police state is a short-term not a long-term solution. We need to tell our Uygur brothers / sisters that look the Hans have lived in Xinjiang for over 2,000 years, the Uygurs around 1,000 years; there must be a way for us to get along and celebrate our diversity...the Chinese are terrible story tellers and we are suffering from it!
i guess rumors like the ethnicity should not be included at this stage
"Incidents involving Uygurs are often labelled "terrorist attacks" while others carried out by Chinese seen as having grievances against society or the authorities are not."
Teddy Ng, one of the most important values of journalism is to be impartial. From what I have quoted from your article, I believe that you have violated this very sacred value of journalism with this very quote. Readers read your article for impartial journalism, not for your biased personal opinions. Your statement is a claim rather than fact. Please don't disguise your personal opinions as facts on such a respectable newspaper.
SCMP does not have the capacity to cover this story properly. If you go to Sina Weibo, there are much more details of this terrorist attack and the horrible memories recounted by survivors. There is this young man who saw his mother stumbled over a chair and the next scene was her throat pierced by a knife. May the victims rest in peace!
Think about this. It could have been a lot worse and even more horrifying had the attackers boarded a train and attacked when the train was at speed between cities and far from any armed rescuers. They could have had time to methodically killed everyone in the cars with plenty of time to get away. The site of the carnage when authorities finally open the doors would be out of the worse chainsaw horror movie. When I rode the fast train from Shanghai to Wuxi, there was no inspection security stations. This is a game changer and easy to copy outside of China. This can happen on any light rail system in any city.
So sad and unfair for the innocents involved...
Who else does this but Islamic terrorists? We see it in N**eria and India and Russia and a dozen other countries. Now if everybody wants to get all politically-correct and blame it on space aliens or paranormal beings from another dimension, be my guest. But people who follow the news recognize the modus operandi of Muslim terrorists when we see it.
Nothing against Uygurs in general here, there are good and bad in any people group. Indeed the article is devoid of anything that could be construed as 'Uygur bashing', however it is counter productive to blind ourselves, in the name of 'Political Correctness', to what we know. Amongst all the minority people groups in China, one which has been the most vocal in airing their grievances over their perceived treatment by the central government, are the Uygurs, who even have a proverb which states "保護宗教,殺漢滅回” (baohu zongjiao, sha Han mie ****) - "Protect religion, Kill the Han and destroy the ****”. The fact that the weapon used in all these attacks was a traditional Uygur yengisar knife, and that the Uygurs are highly skilled in their use, means it is a not unreasonable for the authorities to suspect that that some Uygurs have been radicalised and planned this devastating attack.
knife-wieding attacker???They absolutely are terrorists, Only once Europeans or american be killed, they will be called "terrorists"like June ansar Allah michae adebolajo &adebowale?and about some other content descriptions in the article, I really feel regret.
What a nightmare - my thoughts are with the victim and their loved ones…
Last year I equipped myself with two pairs of kevlar gloves one size fit my hands and other pair over the first pair.
In case I face a situation with someone carrying a knife. At least my chances are a bit better as I will be able to grab the blade without slice my hands. I'm a former kick-boxer [Not a Pro] anything I can do to increase my ability to survive an attack or to help someone else vicim for an attack.
Totally unbelievable; absolutely evil & coward acts against the innocent victims
The perpetrators must be brought before the law courts & dealt with accordingly
And the ridiculous propaganda organ of the CCP just got through a long criticism of the US human rights report by adding up all the lunatic multiple homicide instances in the US. There wasn't one as breathtaking as this. And how stupid it was to highlight such things as particularly relevant to the human rights issue anyway.
Why is cultural revolution not considered a terrorist act?
Are you professional reporters or parrots ?
How dare you make your readers believe that Chinese Government propaganda are FACTS.
Maybe you should go back to a good Journalism school, somewhere in a free country?
No reasonable evidence to validate Uighurs were behind this. Yet, the act itself is horrendous.
The official will release it after investigation finish completely, but we think it's very possible Uighur separatists did from scene state(showed by medium).
Has anyone else noticed that most of the police officers in the photos only carried batons and shields? I think all police should be issued with at least pistols while a select few should carry sub-machine guns. In incidents such as this, the capability of the first responders is most important. It's too late by the time the SWAT team arrives.
Now that all those saunas n massage parlors are closed the men in uniform should get back to work!!!
How do you think about the attack to innocent citizen happened in the past years,lunatic attack or terrorist? And "broader sense", what are you to make of it?
This is terrible
watch the full video from the station: ****adf.ly/eG8GG


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