During the morning rush hour of March 6, at least two assailants stabbed and wounded nine people outside a train station in the southern city of Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. Security forces shot and killed one of the attackers, and arrested the second. The city experienced a similar attack less than a year ago, when six people were stabbed by knife wielding assailants. Moreover, authorities blamed a mass-stabbing attack in March 2014 at a Kunming train station on Uyghur Muslims. That attack left 31 people dead.
In this context, it is suspected that ethnic Uyghur-Islamist militants from the restive Xinjiang region were likely behind today’s attack. Chinese security forces are engaging in an ongoing counter insurgency campaign against separatists in Xinjiang. There, attacks and clashes are relatively commonplace, with a number of incidents over the past month indicating a possible intensification of the insurgency. It should also be noted that given the nature of censorship in China, it is likely that many incidents in Xinjiang are not reported. Along with government operations, counter insurgency measures have included laws against the proliferation of Islamic practices, to curtail local support for fundamentalist Islamist factions. Taken together, this latest attack underscores the lingering threat of militancy in major Chinese as volatility in Xinjiang continues.