The president of China has asked authorities to take "decisive action" against terrorist attacks after a knife-wielding group slashed at commuters and triggered explosions that left three dead and at least 79 injured in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), on Wednesday evening.
Four people were seriously injured in the incident that again brought into focus the tension in Xinjiang, where, according to exiled and rights groups, the minority Uighur community faces a curtailment of religious and cultural rights and heavy-handed government policies.
"An initial police investigation showed knife-wielding mobs slashed people at the exit of the South Railway Station of Urumqi and set off explosives," the publicity department of the regional committee of the Communist Party of China was quoted as saying by the official news agency, Xinhua.
But the authorities ensured that a previously planned inaugural journey of an intercity train from the same station went ahead on Thursday.
"Xinjiang's first ever intercity train pulled out of the Urumqi south station on Thursday morning as scheduled despite an overnight terrorist attack that left three dead and 79 injured," the state media reported.
Reacting to the incident, Xi said: "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 was touring Xinjiang and the state media did not say whether the president was in the province at the time of the attack.
But Xi was quoted using strong words against terrorism throughout his tour of the region.
Xi, according to Xinhua, ordered troops stationed in Xinjiang to deal a "crushing blow" to terrorists.
Speaking with senior PLA officials, Xi ordered PLA forces to assist local government and party departments in combating terrorism and safeguarding social stability.
All forms of terrorism should be rooted out in an early phase, while decisive action must be taken to stop terrorists gaining momentum, he said.
Recalling the incident, a bread vendor told Xinhua that he heard two loud explosions.
"The explosion was so powerful that I thought it was an earthquake," a witness said.
The injured were sent to Xinjiang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital and Xinjiang People's Hospital, both about four kilometers from the station, according to the station police.
Zhang Bin said he was picking up friends at the exit, when he heard a "bang" and tumbled onto the ground.
"With bleeding left arm and injured hip, he ran away with the crowd and called his family before he was sent to the Xinjiang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital," the report said.