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3 killed including 2 suicide bombers in Urumqi attack

URUMQI, China -- 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 strike late Wednesday in Urumqi was the third high-profile attack in seven months blamed on Xinjiang extremists that targeted civilians. These attacks, two of them outside the region, have marked a departure from a previous pattern of primarily targeting local authorities in a long-simmering insurgency.

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 the station to meet her son when the explosives went off and knocked her to the ground.

“I saw 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.

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.

Chinese President Xi Jinping demanded “decisive” action against terrorism after the attack, which came at an 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. It was unclear if he was still in Xinjiang when the explosions took place.

“The battle to combat violence and terrorism will not allow even a moment of slackness,” Xi said in comments published on the front page of official newspapers Thursday and carried by state television.

The blasts went off about 7 p.m. just after a train had pulled into the station and as passengers streamed out onto a plaza near a bus station.

Another survivor, a man who also gave only his surname, Liu, said the blast knocked many people to the ground.

“There was chaos. Everyone was panicking,” Liu said. Police and firefighters quickly arrived and Liu said the injured were taken to hospitals in ambulances and commandeered taxis.

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Security personnel gather near the scene of the explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station on Wednesday, April 30. (AP)

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