BEIJING, China - Fresh needle stabbing attacks took place in the restive Chinese city of Urumqi on Friday, victims told AFP, one day after mass protests by angry residents demanded better public safety.
The city was in near-lockdown after Thursday's demonstrations, which saw tens of thousands of mainly Han Chinese protesters take to the streets, reviving ethnic tensions that sparked deadly violence here just two months ago.
Three stabbing victims were seen filing complaints Friday at a police station in Urumqi, the capital of the mainly Muslim Xinjiang region, after being attacked. Two of the three were assaulted early in the day.
Liu Yan, a 21-year-old Han woman, said she was stabbed in the left hand as she stood outside a convenience store at the Xinjiang People's Hospital, where she works.
"He was really tall, he was a Uighur for sure. But before I could get a good look at him, he ran off," she told AFP with a pained look on her face, showing a pinprick wound on her hand.
"Security said he got away. I can't believe something like this could happen inside the hospital compound," said Liu, who was wearing a pink t-shirt that read "I Want to Love."
Another Han woman, who refused to be identified, had been brought to the police station by her boss after she was stabbed in the right hand.
"It happened very suddenly today as we were walking to work. It happened so fast, we did not have time to react and see who did it. We don't know if it was a Han or a Uighur or what," said the boss, who also asked not to be named.
"You guys have to deal with this. How can this still be continuing?" the boss said loudly to police in the station.
A Uighur man, who appeared to be in his 60s, was also filling out a complaint form. He said he was stabbed in the shoulder on Sunday, but refused to say anything more about the incident.
State media said earlier that 476 people had sought treatment for stab wounds, of whom 89 had obvious needle stab wounds. A total of 21 people have been detained in connection with the attacks, and four of them have so far been charged.
No one had been infected or poisoned in the assaults, Xinhua news agency reported, and it remained unclear what the syringes contained, if anything.