Chinese paramilitary police patrol outside the train station in Kunming, Yunnan province, yesterday.
BEIJING: Chinese state television yesterday broadcast an interview with a police officer said to have shot five knife-wielding thugs who killed and injured scores of people in a railway station attack.
The unnamed officer, whose face was not shown, said it took him 15 seconds to shoot the five attackers, four of them fatally, during the assault on Saturday night in the south-western city of Kunming.
The policeman, who leads a four-member emergency response team but was “the only one to carry an automatic rifle,” arrived at the scene 10 minutes after the stabbing started, he told state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).
“Some people were being held on the ground and they were still stabbing them,” he said.
Five of the attackers then turned towards him, he said.
He fired a warning shot, which they did not respond to, and then fired at the one closest to him, who was “in black clothes and veiled” and “held a knife about 60-70 centimetres” long.
“The other four did not back off and continued to run at me, with knives,” he said in the interview. “I shot all of them.
“It probably took 15 seconds from firing the first shot to the moment when all five were shot and fell to the ground,” he said.
The ministry of public security said that an eight-strong gang carried out the attack, four of whom were shot dead and one injured at the scene, with three other suspects captured Monday.
Some reports have said the entire incident lasted as long as 25 minutes. There was no explanation for the discrepancy. “I think I saved many innocent civilians. I did right by the people of Kunming and I did right by using my gun,” the policeman told CCTV.
Meanwhile, an exiled Uighur rights leader yesterday urged China against “demonising” the ethnic group after a deadly attack for which officials have blamed separatists from the western region of Xinjiang.
The Munich-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC) strongly condemned the violence and its exiled president, Rebiya Kadeer, appealed to Beijing not to crack down on the minority.