[Police officers stand guard near a blast scene, which had been cordoned off, in downtown Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, May 22. (Xinhua/Cao Zhiheng)]
Flames and heavy smoke consumed the market place of Urumqi, the capital of China’s restive Xinjiang region on Thursday following an attack.
Around 7:50 a.m. (2350 UTC) on Thursday, unidentified assailants rammed two vehicles into the city’s market place. They then threw explosive devices from the windows, according to Xinhua news agency.
China’s Ministry of Public Security has described the attack as a “serious violent terrorist incident.”
Violence has plagued Xinjiang province, home to an ethnically diverse population comprised primarily of Muslim Uighurs. Beijing has blamed the unrest on terrorists backed by foreigners, however rights groups cite cultural repression as the cause of the ethnic clashes in recent years.
Earlier this month, Urumqi’s southern train station was the scene of a bombing and knife attack on passengers. At least three people were killed and dozens more injured. The incident coincided with final day of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the region. He has called for more support for local police and a greater security for the people of the region.
kms,rc/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)