VIDEO

"I saw the attacker hacking away at my husband's forehead": Survivor of Kunming attack

Madam Chen Guizhen, 50, speaking to The Straits Times from her hospital bed in Kunming on March 3. She witnessed her husband being hacked to death by assailants at a train station on March 1. The Chinese government has labelled the incident a terror
Madam Chen Guizhen, 50, speaking to The Straits Times from her hospital bed in Kunming on March 3. She witnessed her husband being hacked to death by assailants at a train station on March 1. The Chinese government has labelled the incident a terror attack perpetrated by Uighur separatists from the restive Xinjiang region in China’s far west. At least 29 people were killed and more than 130 injured in the attack. -- ST PHOTO: KOR KIAN BENG

Madam Chen Guizhen was at the waiting area of the Kunming railway station last Saturday night when a man standing on her left suddenly fell to the ground amid shouts that people were being slashed.

The next moment, a man seated on her right whipped out a long knife. And before she could react, another knife-wielding man clad in black was chopping at people around him.

Madam Chen, 50, quickly tried to wake her husband Xiong Wengong, 59, who was taking a nap on a bench next to her, before she ran for her life.

"As I ran, I turned back and saw the attacker hacking away at my husband's forehead several times while he was trying to put on his shoes," Madam Chen recounted in tears.

She said she then hid in a locked room with several other petrified commuters for about 10 minutes.

When she finally returned to the waiting area located just outside the railway station in the south-western city in Yunnan province, her husband of more than 20 years was already dead.

The couple were planning to spend the night at the station to take the train the next day to Jiaxing city in coastal Zhejiang province where they work as cleaners.

As she recounted the harrowing ordeal to The Straits Times on Monday from her hospital bed, Madam Chen, who has two sons aged 28 and 26, also demanded the Chinese government to take tough action against the perpetrators and do more to help victims and survivors like her.

"I have lost my husband and I have medical illnesses making it hard for me to work. The government should do more and provide me with more financial assistance. They should arrest the remaining attackers and execute them," she said.

Recollections from other survivors interviewed painted a chilling picture of how a group of around 10 attackers methodically carried out their brutal assault - combing through different areas in pairs and slashing at anyone in their sight. The rampage left 29 dead and more than 130 injured. Four assailants were shot dead that night, one arrested, with at least five others still at large.

The Chinese government, which has ordered a massive security crackdown, has labelled the incident a terror attack perpetrated by Uighur separatists from the restive Xinjiang region in China's far west.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg

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