Nine people have been injured in a knife attack at the main railway station in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. Reports from local police say the attack took place soon after 8 a.m. local time (7 p.m. EST), on the station forecourt.
Chinese media reports said that police on the scene responded immediately, shooting dead one male suspect and arresting another. The nine injured people were taken to hospital. No motive for the attack has yet been given.
Security at railway stations and other public places in China has been tightened over the past year, following a stabbing attack at Kunming station last March, which left 29 people dead and over 140 injured. Four attackers were shot dead, and four other people were arrested for their part in the attack; three were later sentenced to death, and a fourth, a woman, to life in prison. Police said they were members of the Muslim Uighur minority from the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where armed separatists have carried out a series of attacks in recent years.
In May last year, a bomb attack at Urumqi railway station in Xinjiang left three dead and 79 injured, just hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping completed a visit to the region. Six people were also injured in a knife attack at Guangzhou station later the same month; police later downplayed reports that it was the work of terrorists, though the motive for that attack has not been given.
The timing of the attack comes with security particularly high around the country, both because of the Chinese New Year holiday, which has just ended, and because of the annual session of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, which began in Beijing on Thursday. Delegates to the legislature are due to debate a draft counterterrorism law, the first of its kind in China, during this month’s session.
China has also seen a number of cases of stabbings at schools and kindergartens in recent years, in most cases carried out by indivuals with grievances against these institutions. This has also led to increased security at many schools, with guards with shields, helmets and long sticks now stationed at many school gates.
A Chinese news website, thepaper.cn, quoted Guangzhou police as saying on their official microblog account that they would strike back hard against any criminal acts that endangered the public.