Fear and anger as China reflects on terror

KUNMING, China - Defiant residents of the Chinese city that saw a mass stabbing queued to give blood Monday, while others vented their anger at what authorities say was a terrorist attack staged by separatists from far-off Xinjiang.

One woman taxi driver told AFP she would not take passengers to Kunming railway station, the scene of the violent rampage which left 29 people dead, underscoring the tense sense of fear that has gripped the usually quiet city.

She then launched into a tirade against Uighurs, the mainly Muslim ethnic group from Xinjiang.

"I won't let them into my taxi. They are all drug addicts and everyone outside Xinjiang distrusts them," she said, refusing to give her name.

"Nobody will rent apartments to them. They are trouble. Most people thought like this before, so you can imagine what people think now," she added, hitting her steering wheel for emphasis.

Xinjiang is periodically hit by violent clashes between locals and security forces, but attacks targeting civilians are rarer.

Incidents are almost unheard of in Yunnan province, which is more than 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) from Xinjiang and a popular tourist destination.

Police maintained a prominent presence on the streets of Kunming Monday, two days after attackers slashed indiscriminately as people queued to buy tickets at the busy railway terminal.

Armed guards remained on duty at the station, although the temporary waiting area that was sealed off Sunday had re-opened.

Outside the large, open shelter where witnesses said the carnage began people laid flowers and wreaths around a few dozen burnt-out candles left over from a vigil the previous night.

Plainclothes security were also patrolling the area, many speaking into walkie talkies as they stood on the edge of the pedestrian thoroughfare that leads to the main station building.

At a public square three kilometres (two miles) away in Kunming's eastern suburbs, around 50 local residents queued to give blood at a temporary donation centre.

More than 130 people were wounded in the attack, prompting shock and outrage nationwide.

"I came here to donate blood... because these terrorists are too cruel as they inflicted too much pain on the common people," said Hu Jiaquan, 35, as he waited to give his first ever donation.

"All citizens should use (our) own strength to defeat these extremists," he added.

Another donor, Yin Jiang, told AFP: "They are so cruel that they took action against elderly, women and children." More than 2,000 people donated 560 litres of blood as of Sunday, state media said.

Across China security has been tightened at transport terminals following the attack, which has been described in state media as "China's 9/11'.

In Kunming, police have been dispatched to schools, patrolling campuses and the surrounding areas, and some said the measures had heightened anxieties.

"I believe that this has been frightening for children, and for my daughter," said Gong Guochong, 36, a beauty salon owner, as she gave blood. "I comforted her by saying that the police would protect her."