Recalling pain from day of horror
Updated: 2013-05-02 07:23
By Cui Jia (China Daily)
Attack survivor wishes to forget, reports Cui Jia in Selibuya town, Kashgar, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Ahmetjon Wubuli doesn't want to remember how six of his colleagues were killed by a terrorist group, but the horrors keep coming back.
"They are like monsters that can eat you alive," said the 26-year-old police officer from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Ahmetjon Wubuli (right) and his colleague Halili Jilili (left) are the only survivors of the attack in which 15 people, including community workers and police officers, were killed. Photo by Zhen Shixin / for China Daily
He paused and rephrased his sentence. "No. They are monsters."
Ahmetjon, from Selibuya township in Kashgar prefecture, spoke from his hospital bed, his head swathed in bandages. A knife wound caused him so much pain he could only talk in a soft, slow voice.
"I even recognized two of the attackers and I think they recognized me as well because we grew up together, but they didn't stop and just wanted to kill anyone who stood in their way. They have no emotions," he said.
Ahmetjon was lucky to tell the story.
Of the 17 people, including community workers and local police officers, who confronted the group of terrorists on April 23, only two survived.
Police found that the group, led by Kasmu Memet, was formed in September 2012. Members were given physical training and learned how to kill by watching footage of terrorist attacks. The group was planning to carry out a major attack in Kashgar city later this year.
On April 28, police in Xinjiang said 25 suspects carried out the deadly attack in Selibuya township. Six were shot dead at the scene and eight were arrested.
The rest of the group fled to Kashgar in Bayingolin Mongol autonomous prefecture and Urumqi, the regional capital, before they were arrested a few days later. Police discovered 20 explosive devices and a large amount of bomb-making equipment. They also found knives, combat training material, illegal extremist religious pamphlets and three jihadist flags.
A routine visit
On April 23, bombs were being made at a house in Selibuya, when community workers arrived on a routine visit at around 1 pm. Other members of the gang, who were not in the house, were alerted and took up positions outside.
Once they realized the community workers had discovered the explosives and were attempting to detain the men inside, this group ran into the house and targeted the officials.
Three of the nine community workers were women. All three were killed. Nine other people, including the head of Selibuya police station, who shot and killed one suspect and wounded another, were forced into a room and burned to death after the terrorists doused the room in petrol before setting it alight.
The group then ambushed a backup team of police officers and township officials. One official was killed on the spot and two police officers later died of their injuries. One of the suspected terrorists was also shot dead.
Four of the suspects then ran into the street and set a number of vehicles alight. One of the men was shot dead as he tried to break into the county government building. The other three stole a motorized tricycle and drove to Selibuya police station. They set the building on fire before being shot dead.
The attack was the deadliest incident in Xinjiang since a riot on July 5, 2009 in Urumqi, which left about 200 people dead. However, unlike the July 5 riot, which the authorities believe was instigated by foreign separatists and extremists, the initial investigation into the April 23 incident concluded that the terrorists had no connection with foreign forces, according to Hou Hanmin, a spokeswoman for the regional information office.
When Ahmetjon received a call for backup, he assumed he would be dealing with a mass brawl so he left his gun at the police station. However, when he arrived at the house at 2 pm he immediately realized the incident was much more than a simple dispute.
"I've dealt with fights involving more than 30 people. No matter how angry people were, they always stopped fighting when the police warned them. But these terrorists just didn't care about being killed," he said. "They are brainwashed by religious extremists. They are not normal. No one knows what they might have done had they not been busted this time."
Realizing he was facing an extreme situation, Ahmetjon rushed back to the police station to get his gun. "When I approached the house for the second time, I heard a woman screaming 'Please save us'. Her voice has been in my head ever since," he sighed.
He saw a government official lying just outside the door, covered in blood. A woman's body was in the courtyard. The house was already on fire. "The terrorists shouted 'This is our last day. Come, if you want to die with us'. I fired two warning shots, but four or five of them, armed with knives a meter long, ran toward me with no hesitation."
As Ahmetjon and another officer fought with their assailants in the courtyard, a man jumped down off the roof and slashed both policemen across their heads with a knife. The officers then ran out of the house, stopping about 20 meters away. They were later rescued.
Abudul Samat, 26, was one of the officers on duty at the police station. He said the men who attacked the building were well trained and fearless. "They were unbelievably brutal," he said.
Three terrorists arrived at around 2:15 pm. They were armed with two large axes and a knife. They pierced the tricycle's petrol tank, siphoned off the fuel and carried it up to the third floor of the building, where they set a fire. The tricycle was left burning on the ground floor.
"Most of the police officers were at the house at the time, so not many of us were left at the station," said Abudul. "The terrorists were very skillful when they siphoned the petrol and seemed to know that the officers' dormitories were on the third floor."
A few minutes later, a police backup team arrived. Two of the attackers were shot dead on the roof of the building. One managed to throw an axe at the police officers, despite having been shot.
"For me, the best way to pay my respects to my dead colleagues is to fight terrorism relentlessly," said Abudul.