Six people were stabbed to death Friday morning at a weekly market in the town of Changsha in southwestern China's Hunan province, news reports said.
A quarrel between two vendors led to a knifing rampage as one of the men involved ran through the street stabbing pedestrians before police reportedly shot him dead, CNN reported. The vendors reportedly came from China's restive Xinjiang province in the country's northwest, home to the minority Muslim Uighur group, which has protested in the past against religious repression by the Communist government in Beijing.
"It was an internal dispute. One of their own people got stabbed to death. An old lady walked out of a shop there, and she was trying to mediate, saying: 'Don't do this. You can talk through this.' Then she was suddenly hacked at. The knives they were using were not long -- just kitchen knives. I saw one dropped on the ground," a witness told CNN.
However, the ethnicity of those involved in Friday's incident was not confirmed by officials, The Hunan Evening News, a local newspaper reported, according to Agence France-Presse.
Earlier this month, eight men had stormed through a train station in Kunming, in southwestern China, with long knives, reportedly killing 31 people and leaving 143 injured. The police had linked this attack to Uighurs from Xinjiang, calling them terrorists who targeted government officials. The police had shot four attackers and arrested the remaining four in the Kunming attack.
Beijing and other parts of China witness sporadic violent attacks, which the authorities typically attribute to violent separatist movements fueled by religious extremism from certain ethnic groups.
Last October, three people, reportedly from a single family from Xinjiang province, drove a sport-utility vehicle into crowds of tourists and set it on fire at Beijing's historic Tiananmen Square, killing themselves and two bystanders.