People pay their respects outside the Kunming Railway Station, which resumed operation on Sunday. Photo: Yang Jingjie/GT
Three suspects connected to the terror attack in Southwest China's Yunnan Province were arrested on February 27, two days ahead of the deadly stabbing rampage at Kunming Railway Station, according to media reports.
An anonymous source close to the police revealed that the three suspects were detained in Shadian, Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan. The source said that a group of eight people had failed in an attempt to detonate an explosive device in the township. Five then fled to Kunming, while three were arrested, reported caixin.com Tuesday.
Four suspects were shot and killed at the scene of the Kunming attack on March 1, in which 29 people were killed and 143 injured. One female suspect was shot but survived, and confessed her involvement in the terror plot.
The unnamed source claimed that another female suspect shot dead at the station was the wife of Abdurehim Kurban, identified by the Ministry of Public Security
(MPS) as the leader.
The group had planned to participate in jihad overseas but was unable to cross the border, so they plotted to launch jihad at transport terminals in either Kunming or Honghe, according to Qin Guangrong, Party chief of Yunnan in a statement on March 4.
People connected to the suspects are under surveillance, and there was no advance intelligence of the attack, Qin said.
The Caixin report led to much confusion online about the date of the arrest, as the MPS announced on March 3 that "three attackers at large" were caught 40 hours after the attack.
Some Net users asked the Yunnan department of public security to confirm the date during an online interview it gave on Tuesday, but no response was made, and the department could not be reached as of press time.
Many commented online that local police should be held responsible.
"They could have foreseen the attack coming and prevented it. They already caught three of them two days before March 1," said a Net user surnamed Gao.
"Terrorists are zealots. It may not be easy to get a confession about their gang or their plan, so it may be inappropriate to criticize local anti-terrorism measures, as attacks are uncertain and unpredictable," said Wang Hongwei, a professor of the School of Public Administration and Policy of the Renmin University of China.
Inadequate public information disclosure could weaken people's awareness of anti-terrorism, which is quite poor presently in China. Authorities should be meticulous enough to prevent any unnecessary panic in society, while strengthening security measures, according to Wang.
He added that the information disclosure by Yunnan government has severely affected its credibility.
"They seem to have overemphasized the promptness of information, but they may have failed to ensure accuracy at the same time," Wang said. Read more in Special Coverage: