China on Monday played down an US embassy notice to American citizens asking them to be alert against possible terror attacks in South China, saying authorities will ensure the country’s citizens were safe.
The alert from the US embassy comes at a time when millions of Chinese are on the move, heading home to celebrate the Communist country’s most important festival, the Chinese Lunar Year that falls on February 19.
Millions of Chinese citizens have begun to pack railway stations, bus depots and airports as they attempt to reach their homes across the country for the all-important Lunar New Year eve dinner.
Security, according to state media reports, have been tightened at stations and terminuses.
The US embassy notice, quoting unidentified media reports, said the terror attack could take place in Kunming, the capital of south China’s Yunnan province.
Though the Embassy said the reports could not be verified, it added: “The United States Embassy in Beijing is aware of media reports alleging that terrorists may be planning to launch an attack in Kunming, Yunnan Province over the Lunar New Year period.”
Last March, a group of around 10 men armed with knives and swords had attacked passengers at the Kunming railway station, slashing to death more than 30 and leaving more than 130 injured. The attacks were blamed on members of the Uyghur community from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
“As noted in the current Country Specific Information Sheet for China, violent attacks in 2014, including acts of terrorism, resulted in several dozen injuries and deaths in public spaces throughout China, including in train stations and markets,” the US notice said.
The notice added: “Although neither US citizens specifically nor foreigners generally were targeted in these attacks, such incidents pose a random threat to foreigners. As always, the Embassy urges U.S. citizens to pay attention to their surroundings when traveling in China and report any concerns to the local police.”
“The Chinese government is resolute in safeguarding the security and property of the masses and maintaining the stability of the social order. I believe competent authorities will ensure the protection of the masses,” foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said at the regular press briefing on Monday when asked to comment on the notice. She added that the US has not been able to verify the reports.
Meanwhile, state media reported that four persons suspected of being involved in plotting last year’s Kunming attack were arrested from Indonesia.