PRECISE STRIKE: Border police partake in live-fire training in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on May 27 (ZHAO GE)
On May 26, China's top leadership reiterated that the country will crack down on terrorist activities and ensure that the lasting social stability and security of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is maintained.
The stability of Xinjiang in northwest China is strategically vital to the country's reform and development as well as its national security, according to a statement released after a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
Top priority should be given to the fight against violent terrorist attacks and religious extremist factions, the statement said, adding that confidence is needed to win the long-term struggle.
On May 22, 39 people were killed and 94 injured in a terrorist attack in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital.
It was the second terrorist attack in Urumqi in less than a month. On April 30, a railway station explosion killed three people, including two attackers, and injured 79 others.
Earlier on March 1, knife-wielding terrorists from Xinjiang killed 29 innocent civilians and injured 143 at a train terminal in Kunming, capital city of southwest China's Yunnan Province. Four of the perpetrators were shot dead by the police at the scene and four others were captured.
"Violent terrorist attacks have become the most immediate and realistic peril to social stability in Xinjiang," said Zhang Chunxian, Party chief of Xinjiang, in a bylined article in the newspaper People's Daily on May 26. He promised to "safeguard stability and resolutely prevent malignant violence and terrorist attacks" in the region.
On the morning of May 22, 68-year-old Li Qiang, a retired gardener, went to the open air market at Park North Street near Renmin Park in Urumqi to buy vegetables. He never expected what he would witness when he prepared to make his way back home.
"Suddenly, two off-road vehicles roared past me and plowed into people without slowing down. Many people were knocked down, most of them were children or elderly," Li recalled.
The worst happened next. The cars' occupants threw explosives into the crowd. "How can anybody kill other people, especially old people and children, without any mercy?" Li asked with tears in his eyes.
The two vehicles then exploded, resulting in the deaths of four people inside.
In response to the fatal attack, President Xi Jinping pledged to severely punish terrorists and spare no efforts in maintaining stability.
Xi asked local authorities to solve the case quickly, offered condolences to the families of the victims and ordered the police to step up patrols and security control over possible terrorist targets and prevent ripple effects.
After an initial investigation, police had identified five suspects who took part in the attack, according to a statement by local authorities on May 23.