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'They target elderly, don't they have parents?'

Updated: 2014-05-23 03:33
By CUI JIA and GAO BO in Urumqi ( China Daily)

Witnesses and survivors of Thursday's attack in Urumqi spoke of their fear and anger toward the terrorists.

The attack in the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region happened at about 7:50 am at a packed fruit and vegetable market on Park North Street.

The market attracts a large crowd of customers each day. Some customers traveled there by bus and many elderly people were among those seeking bargains.

"I was at the morning market when people behind me suddenly became very noisy before I heard an explosion," said a man in his 60s surnamed Wang who was still in shock an hour after the attack.

"I had never been that scared in my life and started to run immediately. As I fled, there was another explosion not far in front of me," Wang said before breaking into tears.

Chen Huagen, 38, who has been a vendor at the market for more than five years, thought it would be just another ordinary day when he parked his tricycle loaded with vegetables at the roadside at about 7 am.

"But I heard people screaming and saw two cars, which looked like SUVs, being driven side by side in the middle of the street at high speed. Flags were hanging on top of both cars," Chen said.

"Many elderly people were walking in the two-lane street or selecting vegetables on the sidewalks at the time. Some were hit by the cars because they had no time to run."

Chen heard seven or eight explosions as the cars plowed into the crowd and said one of the vehicles exploded about 20 meters from his tricycle. "No one emerged from the car," he added.

As the other car kept moving forward, he decided to hide in a nearby residential area.

The street was sealed off quickly after the attack as police investigations began and medical staff members transferred the injured to hospitals.

Wang Chunyan, who is in her 50s, was waiting patiently outside the sealed-off area in the hope of returning to recover groceries she dropped in the market while fleeing for her life.

"I am still having a problem breathing, because of the shock. People in the cars were throwing explosives out and many people were hit. Everything happened so quickly," said Wang, who visits the market nearly every day.

About two hours after the attack, the street was reopened for vendors to collect their belongings. The suspects' vehicles were removed while firemen cleaned the street with high-pressure hoses. However, bloodstains could still be seen on ground.

A middle-aged woman surnamed Zhou, who lives in one of the buildings on the street, said, "Besides medical staff members and police, many others were on hand to help the injured."

All the windows in Zhou's apartment were blown in by the explosions.

Zhao Nan, 34, who lives near the market, said: "My father didn't go to the morning market today because it was too cold. I don't want to imagine what could have happened to him if he had gone.

"How could the terrorists target vulnerable elderly people? Don't they have parents? "

Contact the writers at cuijia@chinadaily.com.cn and gaobo@chinadaily.com.cn.