Security was stepped up overnight at China’s major train stations following Monday afternoon’s knife attack on civilians at Guangzhou Railway Station.
In a high profile gesture designed to reassure the public that the government is taking security seriously, the public security minister and two deputy public security ministers visited railway stations in big cities including Beijing and Shanghai last night.
At least six people were wounded when an attacker went on a chopping rampage in Guangzhou in the third assault on civilians at train terminals in two months. Guangzhou police said the attack was carried out by a single person, but witnesses said more attackers were involved.
The attack came less than a week after an explosion at a railway station in Urumqi - capital of Xinjiang, the vast western region home to ethnic minority Uygurs - left two attackers and a civilian dead and 79 wounded. The incident is believed to have been a terrorist attack perpetrated by Xinjiang militants.
Hours after Monday’s attack, public security minister Guo Shengkun visited Changsha south railway station to inspect security measures there.
Fu Zhenghua, deputy minister of public security, assessed the police’s first response competence at Beijing Railway Station and South Railway station and was told it would only take one or two minutes for police to arrive at the scene in the event of emergencies.
Patrols have been stepped up across all downtown areas and squads equipped with guns, batons and patrol dogs. Another deputy minister of public security, Liu Yanping, inspected railways stations in Shanghai and Suzhou and demanded armed police remain on high alert for terror attacks while improving their anti-terror capabilities.
Police chiefs in Zhengzhou city, Huang Baowei, led a massive operation on Tuesday night involving 100,000 police, security guards, firemen and officials to patrol, setting up road blocks and inspecting cheap hostels and internet bars.
The increased security coincides with the publication of a report by a think tank suggesting China is poorly prepared to deal with terror attacks. The newly-released last year edition of the China National Security Studies annual report wrapped up current threats facing the nation, with articles by scholars from various institutions concluding that the terrorism risk had intensified.
“The anti-terrorism condition facing China is grave,” said the report released by the Centre for International Strategy and Security Studies at Beijing’s University of International Relations.
Other major cities have also stepped up security after the recent attacks.