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Attack On Street Market In Northwest China Kills 31

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Aired 5/22/14

A coordinated attack on an outdoor market in northwest China has left 31 people dead, prompting promises of a vigorous government response. Bombs and cars were used to inflict damage on people at the market.

The early morning attack came in the Xinjiang region, where the government called it "a serious violent terrorist incident of a particularly vile nature," according to the AP. Previous terrorist attacks have been blamed on the area's Muslim Uighur minority.

The attackers struck a street market in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, where vendors had set up tables to sell vegetables, eggs, and other wares on a tree-lined street. From Shanghai, NPR's Frank Langfitt reports for our Newscast unit:

"Two off-road vehicles drove in opposite directions through a morning street market a little before 8 a.m. hitting pedestrians, according to Chinese media. The occupants tossed out explosive devices before they came to a stop and the vehicles exploded."Photos posted to Chinese social media showed the bodies of four people lying in the road who appeared to have been hit. An elderly woman sat next to them, dazed with blood streaming from her forehead."No groups have taken responsibility for the attack, which left more than 90 injured."On April 30, a bombing at the Urumqi train station killed one civilian. A militant group called the Turkistan Islamic Party claimed it was behind the bombing."

Frank also discussed the violence on today's Morning Edition, where he said, "We've never seen a succession of attacks like this."

A man who witnessed the scene at the market shortly after the attack described it to Reuters:

"The air was full of the smell of gunpowder and the sound of sobbing," he said. "There were simply too many (casualties), old folks who were at the morning market."

The state-run Xinhua agency reports, "Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to severely punish terrorists and spare no efforts in maintaining stability in response to Thursday morning's fatal explosions in Urumqi," the region's capital.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/

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