It appears yet again that China's "strike first" anti-terrorism policy has failed as explosions have rocked Urumqi, the capital city of China's unrest-plagued Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region, killing (and injuring) multiple (but unknown) people. Social media suggests 2 SUVs entered the crowded market in the center of the city ploughing down onlookers, throwing explosives from the cars, before a blast was heard. One witness noted that the cars were painted with "uighur" language slogans. Flames and heavy smoke were seen nearby, police are on the scene and the 2 SUVs are being removed. There is no official death or injury count as of yet.
Via Western Australia Today,
Social Media witnesses...
One witness, 76-year-old Fang Zhaoying, was tending her daughter’s grocery store near the market when she heard a few loud explosions and saw lying on the ground.
“The blasts were loud as anything,” she said via telephone. “I went outside to look and saw people lying on the ground, before people told me to go back inside.”
Ms Fang said the explosion occurred during the morning peak for the market, which was known to be more commonly frequented by Han Chinese. She estimated there were at least hundreds lining the streets at the time of the blast.
Another purported witness, Zhang Xiaoning, posted on China’s Twitter-like Weibo that two vehicles drove through the crowded market streets, ploughing through shoppers, before hearing several explosions blasts soon after.
“I managed to react quickly and jumped out of the way,” he posted. “I looked back, and [people] were all lying on the road.”
He said the second car he saw speed through was painted with “Uighur language” slogans and had triangular flags stuck to it. His posts were swiftly removed by internet censors.
Social Unrest is on the rise...
Unlike most of the rest of China which is predominantly Han Chinese, many parts of Xinjiang -- an expansive region
which shares borders with eight countries including Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan -- remain largely home to the native Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic group. According to a 2010 census, Xinjiang's 22 million population comprises of 43 per cent Uighur, 40 per cent Han Chinese, with the rest made up of other minority groups.
But fast-paced development and an associated influx of Han Chinese economic migrants has seen larger cities in Xinjiang, including Urumqi, transform almost unrecognisably, sparking tensions among Uighurs who chafe at government policies they say discriminate against them and restrict their religious freedoms.
Xinjiang has been plagued by ethnic unrest, with China attributing a series of escalating knife and bomb attacks in recent months to separatist Uighur militants from Xinjiang.
Last month an explosion killed three and injured at least 79 at a central train station in Urumqi, in an attack that coincided with the high-profile visit of President Xi Jinping to the region.
On March 1, knife-wielding attackers slashed indiscriminately at passengers at a train station in Kunming, in south-western Yunnan province, killing 29 and wounding more than 130.
It seems the "fists and daggers" of local police are not working.
Internet censors are rapidly removing images from Weibo but here are some...