BEIJING — More than 10 knife-wielding attackers slashed people at a train station in southwestern China late Saturday in what authorities called a terrorist attack by Uighur separatists, and police fatally shot four of the assailants, leaving 33 people dead and 130 others injured, state media said.
The attackers, most of them dressed in black, stormed the Kunming Train Station in Yunnan province and started attacking people, witness Yang Haifei told the official Xinhua News Agency in an interview from a hospital where he was being treated for chest and back wounds.
"I saw a person come straight at me with a long knife and I ran away with everyone," he told Xinhua, adding that people who were slower ended up severely injured.
One suspect was arrested, Xinhua said. Evidence found at the scene of the attack showed that it was a terrorist attack carried out by Xinjiang separatist forces, the municipal government said, according to Xinhua. The report could not be verified.
The far western region of Xinjiang is home to a simmering rebellion against Chinese rule by separatists among parts of the Muslim Uighur population.
Most attacks blamed on Uighur separatists take place in Xinjiang, but Saturday's assault took place more than 620 miles to the southeast in Yunnan, which has not had a history of such unrest. But a suicide car attack blamed on Uighur separatists that killed five people at Beijing's Tiananmen Gate in November raised alarms that militants may be aiming to strike at targets throughout the country.
In an indication of how seriously authorities viewed the attack — one of China's deadliest in recent years — the country's top police official, Politburo member Meng Jianzhu, was en route to Kunming, the Communist Party-run People's Daily reported.
The authorities said identities of the suspects who were killed had not been confirmed, and police were hunting for the remaining attackers, Xinhua reported. The news agency said 29 people described as "civilians" were confirmed dead and 130 were injured.
More than 60 victims of Saturday's attack were taken to Kunming No. 1 People's Hospital, where at least a dozen bodies also could be seen, according to Xinhua reporters at the hospital.
Footage in China's state broadcaster CCTV showed a heavy police presence near the station and plainclothes agents wrapping a long knife in a plastic bag as investigators collected evidence following the attacks.