An explosion at a crowded railway station in Urumqi, the capital of China’s far -western Xinjiang province on Wednesday evening injured people, triggered panic and led to the suspension of train services.
The state media reported that the explosion occurred around 7 pm Wednesday evening at the exit of the south railway station of Urumqi.
State media outlets did not comment on the cause of the blast nor did they share any figures about the casualties.
The People's Daily said on its official microblog that some people were injured in the explosion.
“The explosion occurred around 7 p.m. Wednesday at the exit of the south railway station of Urumqi. Ambulances and police cars rushed to the scene,” Xinhua, China’s official news agency, said in its report.
“As of 8:30 pm, people in the square in front of the station and nearby had been evacuated, Xinhua reporters saw. Police are evacuating people in surrounding areas. Police have cordoned off all entrances to the square of the station. Armed police have been deployed in the square,” the report said.
It added that blast seemed to have occurred “around some luggage left on the ground between the station exit and a public bus stop:”
The blast came as President Xi Jinping wrapped up a four-day visit in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) where he said China will adopt the strategy of “strike first” against terrorism in the restive province, which has seen increasing incidence of violence amid a security crackdown.
“The long-term stability of Xinjiang is vital to the whole country's reform, development and stability; to the country's unity, ethnic harmony and national security as well as to the great revival of Chinese nation,” Xi said.
Safeguarding the country's unity and fighting separatism are of the upmost importance and in the basic interests of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, he said.
While fighting terrorism, China will deploy a “strike-first” strategy against terrorists in this region to deter enemies and inspire people, Xi said.
Xinjiang is home to the Uyghur Muslim community members of which have been linked to the attacks against police stations, government offices and security personnel.
The government has also blamed terrorists and separatists from the community to be behind the March 1 knife attack at the Kunming railway station in south China that left 34 dead in all besides leaving more than 140 injured.
A Xinhua report said it was not clear whether Wednesday’s explosion was a terrorist attack,”…but it certainly provokes memories of the killing spree at a crowded station in the southwestern city of Kunming in early March.”
Members of the Uyghur community were also branded responsible for the car suicide attack in near the Forbidden City next to the Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing last October.
By late night Wednesday, the situation was “well under control”, a spokesperson for the regional government told Reuters news agency.
The government was assessing casualty figures and investigating the cause of the blast, spokesperson Luo Fuyong told Reuters.