Five suicide bombers carried out the attack which killed 31 people in the capital of China’s troubled Xinjiang region, state media reported a day after the deadliest terrorist attack to date in the region.
The incident, which occurred in Urumqi on Thursday morning, was the second suicide attack in the capital in just over three weeks. A bomb and knife attack at an Urumqi train station in late April killed one bystander and wounded 79.
The government blames Islamists and separatists for the worsening violence in Xinjiang, the resource-rich western region bordering central Asia. At least 180 people have been killed in attacks across China.
The attackers ploughed two vehicles into an open market in Urumqi and hurled explosives. Many of the 94 people wounded were elderly shoppers, according to witnesses.
“Five suspects who participated in the violent terrorist attack blew themselves up,” the Global Times, a tabloid run by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, reported on Friday.
The newspaper said authorities “are investigating whether there were other accomplices”.
Exiles and many rights groups say the real cause of the unrest in Xinjiang is China’s heavy-handed policies, including curbs on Islam and the culture and language of ethnic Uighurs, a Turkic speaking Muslim people.
The Uighurs have long complained of official discrimination in favour of the Han people, China’s majority ethnic group.
Residents said the morning market, where the attack occurred, was predominantly frequented by Han Chinese customers, though many of the vendors are Uighurs.