December 19, 2014
China: Blast kills 31, injures 94 in Xingjiang separatist region
Explosives hurled from two vehicles which ploughed into an open market in China's troubled Xinjiang region killed 31 people, state media reported, the deadliest act of violence in the region in years.
China called the attack in the regional capital of Urumqi a "serious violent terrorist incident" and domestic security chief Meng Jianzhu vowed to strengthen a crackdown on the "arrogance of terrorists". Ninety-four people were wounded.
China has blamed a series of knife and bomb attacks in recent months on separatist militants from Xinjiang, the traditional home of the ethnic Muslim Uighurs.
The cross-country vehicles rammed into shoppers in an open market, Xinhua news agency reported, citing witness reports. Explosives were flung out of the windows, and one of the vehicles exploded.
Xinjiang has been plagued by violence for years, but rights activists and exile groups say the government's own heavy handed policies in the region have sowed the seeds of unrest.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the attack "should be condemned jointly by the Chinese people and the international community".
"The Chinese government has the confidence and the ability to combat the terrorists," Hong said at a daily news briefing. "These terrorists are swollen with arrogance. Their schemes will not succeed."
Two Chinese flights bound for the troubled far western region of Xinjiang were diverted to other airports after a passenger said his travelling companion had threatened to blow up one of the aircraft.
Both planes were operated by Juneyao airlines and flying from the commercial capital, Shanghai, to the city of Urumqi, hours after the deadly attack.
Juneyao said a passenger on the first flight had passed the crew a note saying his travelling companion had threatened in a telephone call to "blow up" the plane. His companion had failed to board the flight and he was suspicious of the contents of a piece of luggage entrusted to him.