China Sentences Three to Die for Kunming Knife Attack

A Chinese court sentenced three people to death after being convicted of murder and terrorism for masterminding a train station attack that killed 29 people in March.

A fourth person was sentenced to life in prison for participating in terror activities and murder, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing a verdict given by the intermediate court in Kunming, the capital city of the southwestern Yunnan province. She was spared a death sentence because she was pregnant when captured, according to Xinhua.

The four all had Uighur names, a Muslim ethnic minority that is the dominant population in northwestern Xinjiang province where China is battling a separatist movement. Five more people will face trial over the attack at a later date, Xinhua said.

Those killed, many of them migrant workers, were stabbed to death at Kunming train station on March 1, with Chinese authorities labeling it a terrorist attack. Chinese police shot and killed four suspects and captured three, according to Xinhua reports.

Ethnic violence in Xinjiang has spiked as President Xi Jinping vowed to crush violence and separatist activities in the province. Authorities also blamed Uighurs for an attack last October when a sports-utility vehicle crashed into a crowd near Beijing’s Tiananmen square, killing two tourists and the three people in the vehicle.

Terror Training

Under “the influence of extremist religious thoughts,” the three people sentenced to death started to organize terror activities from December 2013, including intense physical training, knife-hoarding, regularly showing its members videos on how to make bombs and how foreign terrorists carry out killings, Xinhua reported.

The group had 13 members and engaged in terror activities in at least four provinces including Guangdong, Henan, Gansu and Yunnan.

The three Uighur men who were sentenced to death were captured by police when they were attempting to cross the border via Shadian, Yunnan on Feb 27, 2014.

The court said those sentenced had masterminded the Kunming knife attack and didn’t inform the police after their detention so that the attack could go ahead.

— With assistance by Ting Shi

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