At least 29 people were killed Saturday after assailants wielding knives stormed a train station in southwestern China, in what has been described as “an organized, premeditated violent terrorist attack.”

From the Associated Press via ABC News:

More than 10 assailants slashed scores of people with knives at a train station in southern China in what state media said Sunday was a terrorist assault by ethnic separatists from the far west. Twenty-nine slash victims and four attackers were killed and 143 people wounded.

Police fatally shot four of the assailants, captured one and were searching for the others following the attack late Saturday at the Kunming train station in Yunnan province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. State broadcaster CCTV said two of the attackers were women — one of the slain and the one who was captured and later brought to a hospital for treatment.

Witnesses described assailants dressed in black storming the train station and slashing people indiscriminately with large knives and machetes.

Student Qiao Yunao, 16, was waiting to catch a train at the station when people starting crying out and running, and then saw a man cut another man’s neck, drawing blood.

“I was freaking out, and ran to a fast food store, and many people were running in there to take refuge,” she told The Associated Press via Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblog. “I saw two attackers, both men, one with a watermelon knife and the other with a fruit knife. They were running and chopping whoever they could.”

It was an organized, premeditated violent terrorist attack, according to the authorities,” reported China’s official Xinhua news agency.  The identities of the attackers reportedly killed had not yet been confirmed.  

Additional reports described the scene at the time of the attack, based on witness accounts.

From the NY Times:

The violence erupted about 9 p.m. in the city of Kunming, when the assailants, all wearing similar clothing, entered the square in front of the station as well as a ticket sales hall, according to the official Yunnan news service.

“According to eyewitnesses, the group of males held knives and all wore the same black clothing,” said the China News Service, another state-run news agency. “They slashed at whoever they saw, and at the scene there were many people injured.” Photographs circulated by Chinese news websites, which they said were taken after the attack, showed men and women sprawled and bleeding.

Police were still trying to find the rest of the attackers, according to AFP.

The attack occurred just ahead of China’s annual meeting of parliament, which is scheduled to open in Beijing on Wednesday.

There were multiple reports that posts and graphic pictures alleged by users to be from the incident had been circulating on China’s social media service Sina Weibo.  Many have since been taken down, however, according to Reuters, BBC News and other news reports.  (As Reuters noted, some were “quickly deleted by government censors, especially those that described the attackers.”)

There was little other confirmed information available at the time of this writing late Saturday evening, so if there are any significant updates, we’ll update this post accordingly.  The Associated Press also typically updates its posts, so you can refresh the above AP link to check for updates there as well.

(Featured image: BBC video/Reuters)