At least 27 people have been killed in a “violent terror attack” at a train station in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming by a group of unidentified people brandishing knives, state media said on Sunday.
Another 162 were injured, the official Xinhua news agency added. It said the attack had taken place late on Saturday evening.
State television said on its official microblog that the incident had been deemed a “violent terror attack”.
Xinhua, citing one of its reporters on the scene, said that several suspects had been detained.
Kunming resident Yang Haifei told Xinhua that he was buying a ticket when he saw a group of people mostly wearing black rush into the station and start attacking bystanders.
“I saw a person come straight at me with a long knife and I ran away with everyone,” he said. Those who were slower were caught by the attackers. “They just fell on the ground.”
Graphic pictures on the Twitter-like microblogging service Sina Weibo showed bodies covered in blood lying on the ground at the station.
There was no immediate word on who was responsible.
State television’s microblog said domestic security chief Meng Jianzhu was on his way to the scene.
The attack comes at a particularly sensitive time as China gears up for the annual meeting of parliament, which opens in Beijing on Wednesday and is normally accompanied by a tightening of security across the country.
China has blamed similar incidents on Islamist extremists operating in the restive far western region of Xinjiang, though such attacks have generally been limited to Xinjiang itself.
China says its first major suicide attack, in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in October, involved militants from Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people, many of whom chafe at Chinese restrictions on their culture and religion.