Survivors tell of terror after China market attack

The assailants tossed explosives from two SUVs as they sped through a packed vegetable market, mowing through customers and wares. Mrs. Li was working the public scale to weigh produce when one of the cars knocked her off her feet.

“It was so fast, it was like a plane flying,” Li, 70, said Friday at a hospital where she was being treated for a broken hip.

The assailants set off more fiery blasts, and all together 43 people were killed and more than 90 wounded in Thursday’s attack, the latest — and bloodiest — violence in China’s far northwestern Xinjiang region in recent months.

A day after the attack in Xinjiang’s capital of Urumqi, survivors told of their terror and said they no longer feel insulated from a long-simmering insurgency against Chinese rule, which has struck their city twice in recent weeks.

Mrs. Li’s daughter said the danger of violence was now a much greater factor in the daily lives of Xinjiang’s ethnic Chinese population.

“The violence used to be distant, but now I have my mother lying in the bed suffering. The danger is right here with us and we dare not go out,” said the daughter, who declined to give her name.

Local authorities said police have identified five suspects — four people who died in the attack and another who was caught Thursday — the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said all five had “long been influenced by the religious extremism.”

Chinese authorities have blamed most recent attacks on radical separatists from the country’s Muslim Uighur minority.

Xinjiang is home to the native Turkic-speaking Uighurs but has seen large inflows from China’s ethnic Han majority in recent decades. Uighur activists contend that restrictive and discriminatory policies favoring the Chinese migrants are fueling the bloodshed.

Another woman in the hospital ward, Mrs. Zhang, had just bought her morning fruit and vegetables when an explosive tossed from one of the SUVs slammed her to the ground.

“The SUVs were mowing down people and goods alike,” said Mrs. Zhang, 71. “It is not safe here anymore. We don’t have a sense of security.”

Urumqi was relatively calm Friday, with heightened security around the scene of the attack. The market itself was closed, and dozens of police armed with automatic rifles and wearing body armor guarded access points.

Police banned parking within 100 yards of schools in Urumqi and said drivers can stop only briefly outside hospitals and bus and train stations.

The violence was the deadliest in Xinjiang since riots in Urumqi in 2009 between Uighurs and Hans left almost 200 people dead, according to an official death toll. Thursday’s attack also was the bloodiest single act of violence in Xinjiang in recent history.

— Associated Press

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