Urumqi cafe owners aid victims of attack

Urumqi cafe owners aid victims of attack
Miao Houqun, husband of Chen Zongyan, owner of a dumpling restaurant in Urumqi, recalls the scene of saving dozens of residents during a Thursday morning terrorist attack on Friday.

"Life will go on, and we will continue to run our restaurant in Urumqi," said Chen Zongyan, 46, owner of a dumpling restaurant on the street where terrorists attacked on Thursday in the capital city of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

But she still shivered with fear as she recalled the scene.

"I was bargaining with a vendor on the street," she said, "The moment I stepped onto the sidewalk, a vehicle came and knocked down the people behind me."

As Chen rushed back to the restaurant, dozens of residents crowded into the small room with her.

"Then I heard several explosions," Chen said.

Her restaurant is at the corner of the biggest intersection along the 400-meter-long market street. Several stands selling mutton, grains and fruit were set up in front of her restaurant.

"The street was in chaos, and people were crying and shouting," said Miao Houqun, Chen's 46-year-old husband.

The man said he jumped onto the chopping board in the restaurant's kitchen and broke the window in the back of the building.

"Many people crowded in such a small space ... they would have been hurt if there were any more attacks," Miao said.

"Another person and I pushed the security grate off the window to let all the people out."

When Miao got back to the restaurant after making sure they got to safety, he found some injured people still in the room. He immediately helped them to ambulances waiting outside and cleaned the blood from the floor.

Three big fire extinguishers were noticeable in the room. Miao said because his restaurant is often very crowded, he felt he should be responsible for the safety of his customers. The big extinguishers were put there to replace small ones supplied after an earlier blast that occurred at Urumqi's South Railway Station on April 30.

With their two sons, Miao and his wife have run the restaurant for over 10 years. In addition to dumplings, they also offer breakfasts of porridge, boiled eggs and baked bread.

Following the attack, and with the morning market closing, "the business may slump", Chen said, "but we will hold on because we have settled here. We won't leave here."

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