KUNMING, March 4 (Xinhua) -- After twenty minutes of brutal close fighting between railway police and attackers, shots by a police officer from an emergency response team finally halted the terrorist attack Saturday night in the southwestern city of Kunming.
Without warning, knife-wielding attackers appeared at the main railway station in Kunming, the capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province on Saturday and began slashing at crowds, killing 29 people and injuring 143.
The health authority on Monday said that 20 of the 143 injured in Kunming are still in critical condition.
"COME ATTACK ME"
When policeman Zhang Liyuan recalled the night at the hospital, he seemed calm.
Zhang's finger had been chopped off while fighting barehanded against one of the attackers.
Railway police in China usually do not carry guns. Guns were kept together at police stations, according to police.
"The railway police station received a report of the attack at 9:15 p.m," Zhang said. "There was no time for me to think. I rushed out of my office and headed to the square to save people while calling for more support."
Zhang said he saw the attackers were hacking people at random. He shouted, "Come attack me!" to attract the attention of the attackers and lead them to a parking area where there were fewer people.
"But they did not follow me and they ran toward the crowds, so I chased them," Zhang said.
When Zhang saw a railway security guard had stopped one attacker and others came to attack him, Zhang went up to help.
"One of the attackers turned around and cut right on my hand," Zhang said.
Another two attackers injured the railway station security guard and two of Zhang's colleagues who came to help.
"My colleague Xie Lin was hit on his head, and Peng Bin was stabbed in his abdomen," Zhang said.
Zhang said they continued to chase the attackers who were terrorizing the crowd until 9:35 p.m., when the armed police came and finally halted the chaos.
FIRE TO PROTECT CIVILIANS
More people would have been injured or killed if the police officer who was the only one carrying an automatic rifle did not arrive in time.
"I fired several warning shots after I arrived at the scene, but the attackers did not stop their frantic slaughter," said the policeman from the Guandu sub-bureau of the Kunming Municipal Public Security Bureau.
"I was 15 meters away from the attackers then. I saw them slicing the victims one by one," the policeman said. "I shouted out, 'put down your knives' and fired warning shots before they all turned to me."
"When a thin, black-masked attacker approached to less than one meter away from my gunpoint, I shot the attacker down. The other four attackers,however, did not back off and continued to run at me with knives, so I fired at all of them," he said.
"After all five attackers were shot down, the first one stood up again and threw a knife at me, I tilted my head and avoided the weapon," he said.
"I had to shoot them down, because if I didn't, I'm sure the attackers would have harmed more civilians, and they would have hurt me as well if I had fired more slowly. They all came to me with knives 60 to 70 centimeters long," he said.
"It took about 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 in a statement that a terrorist gang led by Abdurehim Kurban was responsible for the attack.
Police shot and killed four of them and captured an injured female attacker at the scene on Saturday night, according to the statement.
Police on Monday said that three suspects involved in the terrorist attack had been captured two days after the terrorist attack took place.
Soon after the terrorist attack, Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered law enforcement agencies to strike out with full force and bring those accountable to justice as soon as possible.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ordered police forces nationwide to beef up security, particularly at public places with big crowds.
Senior Chinese security official Meng Jianzhu arrived in Kunming at 5:30 a.m. Sunday to oversee the situation.
Order was restored in Kunming on Sunday, with train arrivals resuming after three trains with 3,000 passengers were affected on Saturday night. About 60,000 passengers left the station on Sunday, higher than the 59,000 on Saturday. All local middle and primary schools opened as normal on Monday with enhanced security.
Chinese leaders and political advisors on Monday paid silent tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack at the opening of the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).