Chinese authorities said Thursday that two religious extremists carried out a terror attack at a train station in far-western Xinjiang region by detonating explosives, in an apparent suicide bombing that also killed one other person and wounded 79.
The official website for Xinjiang's regional government said police identified two suspects with a history of religious extremism, including a 39-year-old man from southern Xinjiang. It did not explicitly call Wednesday's attack in the regional capital of Urumqi a suicide bombing, but said the two men detonated explosives at a train station exit and both died on the spot.
It was the third high-profile attack in seven months blamed on Xinjiang extremists that targeted civilians — two of the attacks outside the region — marking a departure from a previous pattern of primarily targeting local authorities in the long-simmering insurgency.
Chinese President Xi Jinping demanded "decisive" action against terrorism after the attack, which came at awkward time for him, just as he was wrapping up a four-day tour of Xinjiang aimed at underlining the government's commitment to security in the region.
The blasts went off about 7 p.m. just after a train had pulled into the station and as passengers were streaming out onto a plaza near a bus station.
A 57-year-old woman being treated at the Xinjiang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital said she had just arrived from Sichuan province and was walking outside to meet her son when the blast went off.
"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.