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3 killed in blast in China rail depot

BEIJING — An explosion rocked a railway station in China’s restive far-western region of Xinjiang, and the state broadcaster said three people were killed and 79 people were injured. The attack Wednesday came as President Xi Jinping ended a four-day visit to the region.

CCTV said assailants attacked crowds with knives and set off explosions at the same time at the Urumqi South Station. The station called it a terrorist act.

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It was unclear whether Xi was still in the region at the time of the blast, which occurred at the rail station in the regional capital of Urumqi.

Train service was suspended for about two hours before it reopened under the watch of armed police, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Photos circulating briefly on Chinese social media sites showed scattered luggage near the station’s exit and a heavy presence of armed men. Xinhua said the blast was centered on some luggage left on the ground between the station’s exit and a bus stop.

Ethnic tensions have been simmering for years in Xinjiang, the home of the Muslim Uighur minority group. In 2009, a series of riots erupted in Urumqi, leaving nearly 200 people dead, according to official figures. Despite a heavy crackdown, violence has continued in the region and began spreading elsewhere in the country last year.

Last year, three Uighurs rammed a vehicle into crowds in a suicide attack near the Forbidden City gate in the heart of Beijing, killing themselves and two tourists.

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