Two food vendors, Hebir Turdi and Memet Abla, engaged in a knife fight at a market in the Hunan province of central China which ended in a death toll of six on Friday morning. The vendors argued inside the Shahuqiao wet market in the Wujialing neighborhood of Kaifu District in Changsha City.
Memet Abla was stabbed to death during the attack by Hebir Turdi. An older woman who also worked at the market tried to intervene, but Turdi hacked her to death as well as stabbing four bystanders, two of which died later on at a local hospital. The knives used in the fight were said to be regular kitchen knives. The dispute apparently was over personal matters between Turdi and Abli. Turdi was shot by authorities as he tried to flee the scene.
The food market incident between the two vendors happened just a couple of weeks after 29 people were killed and 140 were wounded in a knife fight at a train station in Kunming, the capital of southern China’s Yunnan province. The attack was blamed on Uighurs, what the Chinese describe as Islamic militants or ‘separatists,’ as the Chinese call them. During the gruesome knife attack in Kunming police shot four of the suspects dead and captured one. Originally it was reported that the two vendors involved in the food market attack were Uighur flatbread vendors but that statement was later recanted. The market crowd quickly fled the area as word spread of the knife attack. Panic was running rampant, and word of a possible knifing spree by Uighurs was spreading as far as Chengdu, 750 miles away. A similar false panic happened in a town called Guangzhou where a pickpocket was being question by police and shouted a comment about a knife hacking which sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Abdullah Mansour, leader of the rebel Turkestan Islamic Party, has not claimed any involvement in the knife attack in Kunming, but he has declared revenge on China in a recent statement. Some Uighurs were forced out of China when militant groups were banned from the country. Now these Uighurs are hiding out in Pakistan and desperately want back into the country they call home. The Uighurs deny being hard-core militants and they don’t have the manpower the Chinese claim they have.
The knife fight at the market reflected the knife fight that occurred just two weeks earlier with a much higher death toll, and put the community on edge. As was to be expected, people panicked and took cover in fear of knife-wielding terrorists taking over their towns and homes. The dispute at the market may have been a personal dispute between two vendors, but situations like this will be a constant reminder of the Kunming attacks for quite a while. Due to the recent knife attack in Kunming and the panic that is spreading throughout the region, police have beefed up security at malls, public transportation stations, markets and other high traffic areas.
By Christina Thompson