At least 27 people are dead and 109 were injured in a mass knife-attack at a train station in southwestern China on Saturday, according to the state news agency Xinhua.
State television reported on its official microblog that the incident had been deemed a "violent terror attack," Reuters reported.
Witnesses posting online said men dressed in black uniforms with “crazily” long knives began hacking at passers-by shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday at the Kunming Railway Station in the capital of the Yunnan province, the South China Morning Post reported.
Some witnesses claim the attackers were Uyghurs – a minority Turkish enthic group of Sunni Islam faith. It is unclear whether this attack is related to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement , an al-Qaeda-linked group promoting a separatist movement among the Uyghurs.
Xinhua did not provide details about how many attackers were in the group.
Several of the assailants were shot by police. Victims were transported to local hospitals.
Photographs on social media site Sina Weibo show luggage, blood, and bodies strewn across the station.
The motive behind the mass killing is unclear. The attack came ahead of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on Monday and the National People’s Congress on Wednesday. South China Morning Post called March a "politically sensitive time of year."
Such violence is reportedly unheard of in Kunming.
“Our guests who walked passed the train station told us not to leave the hotel because the situation is dangerous," a hotel worker told the South China Morning Post. "We dare not leave the hotel right now. There are many police outside. We just fear that not all the attackers have been caught.”