China’s Xi demands action after 3 killed in attack

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Heavily armed Chinese paramilitary policemen march past the site of the Wednesday’s explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded ‘decisive actions” against terrorism following the attack at the railway station in the far west minority region of Xinjiang that left three people dead and 79 injured. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Heavily armed Chinese paramilitary policemen march past the site of the Wednesday’s explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded ‘decisive actions” against terrorism following the attack at the railway station in the far west minority region of Xinjiang that left three people dead and 79 injured. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Chinese men examine damaged sign boards near the site of Wednesday’s explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded “decisive actions” against terrorism following an attack at the railway station in the far-west minority region of Xinjiang that left three people dead and 79 injured. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

In this Wednesday, April 30, 2014 photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, front center, visits a mosque in Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Xi had an inspection tour in Xinjiang from April 27 to April 30. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Lan Hongguang) NO SALES

In this Wednesday, April 30, 2014 photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, front right,shakes hands with model workers and outstanding figures in Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Xi had an inspection tour in Xinjiang from April 27 to April 30. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Xie Huanchi) NO SALES

Heavily armed Chinese paramilitary policemen march past the site of the Wednesday’s explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded ‘decisive actions” against terrorism following the attack at the railway station in the far west minority region of Xinjiang that left three people dead and 79 injured. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

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URUMQI, China (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping demanded “decisive” action against terrorism after a bomb and slashing attack at a Xinjiang train station killed three people and injured 79 while he was wrapping up a tour of the far-western region.

The official People’s Daily newspaper’s microblog reported Thursday that two of those killed were attackers who had strapped bombs to their bodies. The report could not immediately be confirmed.

A group of knife-wielding attackers slashed at passengers and set off explosives near an exit of the South Station in the regional capital, Urumqi, late Wednesday, official reports said.

The attack followed Xi’s four-day trip, in which he visited local officials and police to stress the government’s security efforts in the region, which has experienced rising violence blamed on radical Islamists and separatists.

A 57-year-old woman being treated at the Xinjiang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital said she had just got off a train from Sichuan province and was walking outside to meet her son when the blast went off.

“I saw I had shreds of flesh and blood in my hair and on my clothes. It was terrifying,” said the woman, who would only give her surname, Peng.

Another survivor, a man who also gave only his surname, Liu, said the station exit had been crowded with people when the blast went off.

“After the blast, there was chaos. Everyone was panicking,” said Liu. Police and firefighters quickly arrived and Liu said the injured were taken to hospitals in ambulances and commandeered taxis.

Tensions between Chinese and ethnic Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang have been simmering for years, particularly since riots in 2009 in Urumqi left nearly 200 people dead, according to official figures. Beijing blames the violence on overseas-based instigators, but has offered little evidence.

There was no immediate word on arrests and it was unclear whether Xi was still in the region at the time of the attack. Information about events in the area about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) west of Beijing is tightly controlled and it was difficult to immediately verify many of the details.

“At the moment, it is acknowledged to be a terrorist attack. What is yet to be found out is who did this and for what purpose under whose instigation,” the official Xinhua News Agency said Thursday.

Although authorities provided no details of suspects, the Chinese president said in his comments after the attack that authorities were in a long-term battle against Xinjiang separatists. Recent attacks blamed on separatists have appeared increasingly organized and more likely to target civilians as well as authorities.

“The battle to combat violence and terrorism will not allow even a moment of slackness, and decisive actions must be taken to resolutely suppress the terrorists’ rampant momentum,” Xi said in comments published on the front page of official newspapers Thursday and carried by state television.

Train service was suspended for about two hours, Xinhua said. It said security was tightened at all transport hubs in the city, which has a mainly Han Chinese population who are distinct from Xinjiang’s native Turkic Muslim Uighur ethnic group.

Witnesses said the area outside the train station was cordoned off overnight.

But by afternoon Thursday, a public holiday, the train station bustled with hundreds of travelers bringing luggage and waiting in orderly lines. Paramilitary police with rifles and helmets and riot police with bulletproof vests and shields patrolled and guarded positions in groups of about a dozen each.

Street sellers hawked stacks of naan bread, while shopkeepers repaired minor damage to signs and lights on storefronts. One shopkeeper refused to let people bring their bags into his convenience store and held a short,

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