Sympathy messages will go to Kunming

Last updated 05:00 03/03/2014

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New Plymouth will be sending messages of condolences to its sister city Kunming today after a violent terrorist attack there left at least 27 people dead and more than 130 wounded.

The mass killing happened late on Saturday evening at the Kunming railway station, where victims have since described knife-wielding attackers dressed in black bursting into the station and slashing indiscriminately.

The incident "was an organised, premeditated violent terrorist attack" carried out by "unidentified knife-wielding people", the official news agency Xinhua said, citing authorities.

New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd said the attack on Kunming was "devastating and shocking".

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of the victims at this tragic time."

He said the council would extend its condolences to the city and a book would be set up at the New Plymouth District Council so people could send their wishes to the people of Kunming.

He would work with council chief executive Barbara McKerrow to organise everything today.

Betty Leung, president of the Taranaki Chinese association was shocked to hear of the brutal murders.

"I feel very sorry for their community and I hope these murderers are all captured so they cannot hurt anyone else," she said.

Mrs Leung has been to Kunming five times and said although she did not know of anyone in the Taranaki Chinese community who was from there, she hoped people would still extend their condolences to the sister city. "It's a lovely place and this is just shocking. I really feel for the families."

Police shot dead some of the alleged assailants at the city train station, according to posts by television station K6 on its official Sina Weibo account, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Officers sealed off an area around the station, it added, while agency Xinhua reported they were questioning people at the site.

Meanwhile, ambulances had taken the injured to hospitals, K6 reported.

The attackers carried knives and were dressed in similar black clothing, the official China News Service said. "A group of men carrying weapons burst into the train station plaza and the ticket hall, stabbing whoever they saw."

Photos posted on Sina Weibo showed blood spattered across the floor and medical staff crouching over bodies lying on the ground.

Kunming has no history of violent attacks, and the motive for the stabbings was not immediately clear.

New Plymouth's sister city relationship with Kunming was established in 2003.

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- Taranaki Daily News


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