Knife-wielding assailants attack people in central China, at least 1 dead

Police inspect the crime scene where attackers armed with knives killed at least one in Changsha, central China's Hunan province, on March 14, 2014. Barely two weeks after a brutal knife attack left dozens dead in south-western Kunming city, ano
Police inspect the crime scene where attackers armed with knives killed at least one in Changsha, central China's Hunan province, on March 14, 2014. Barely two weeks after a brutal knife attack left dozens dead in south-western Kunming city, another fatal stabbing attack has occurred in China, this time in central Hunan province. -- PHOTO: AFP

Barely two weeks after a brutal knife attack left dozens dead in south-western Kunming city, another fatal stabbing attack has occurred in China, this time in central Hunan province.

The official Xinhua agency reported that a group of knife-wielding assailants attacked passers-by on Friday morning on a street in provincial capital Changsha city, according to local authorities.

At least one body was seen lying on the ground at the crime scene, according to Xinhua, although netizens said on Twitter-like Sina Weibo that at least four were killed.

Netizens said that the attack was carried out in a market by five assailants. One was caught, another shot dead while three had escaped.

One attacker, who ran a bakery, stabbed to death a woman in her 80s who had just walked out onto the street, a Hunan radio station reported.

Photos on Weibo showed a man, believed to be a victim, lying in a pool of blood and another of a suspect being arrested and taken into a police car.

A Hunan radio station described it as a dispute between stallholders although the incident, coming on the heels of the March 1 Kunming attack that left 29 dead, stoked fears that it could be another "terrorist attack". Schools in the vicinity are said to have been closed.

China has labelled the Kunming attack as a terrorist act, and blamed it on Xinjiang separatists seeking to set up a sovereign East Turkestan state.

China also believes the eight assailants - four were shot dead and the rest since arrested - had received help from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a militant group based in central and western Asia.

esthert@sph.com.sg

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