An explosion rocked a plaza outside a train station in Urumqi, capital of China’s Xinjiang province, on Wednesday in the wake of a four-day inspection tour of the restive northwestern area by President Xi Jinping.
The blast at Urumqi's south railway station about 7 p.m. killed three people and injured 79, state television reported. The broadcaster said assailants attacked people with knives and set off explosions.
The official New China News Agency said police evacuated the area after the explosion and that train service was suspended for two hours before resuming. There was no indication that any assailants had been detained.
The blast came as train stations across the country were full of people traveling before a three-day public holiday that begins Thursday.
Troops in military fatigues and police officers were shown surrounding the station. New China News Agency's Twitter feed reported that the blast was powerful and that a man at a nearby hotel thought it was an earthquake.
Meeting with police in the city of Kashgar on Monday, Xi said "grass-roots police stations are 'fists and daggers,' so you must spare no efforts in serving the people and safeguarding the public security," according to the news agency.
It wasn't clear whether Xi was still in the region at the time of the blast.
[Updated, April 30, 5:45 p.m. PDT: Early Thursday, Xi reiterated that the blast at the train station reinforced the need for officials to deepen their understanding of separatism and be resolute against the "arrogance of terrorist violence," the news agency said.]
Some Uighurs complain that they have not shared equally in the economic boom and say government policies aim to stamp out their cultural and religious practices.
Recently, authorities in the province have posted notices promising rewards for people who report others hoarding weapons or planning attacks. The fliers have also encouraged citizens to notify authorities about people growing beards, wearing veils, ripping up official documents and other behaviors that may indicate a desire to separate from government authority and structure.
In wake of the Kunming attack, Xi and other top leaders have called for a variety of stronger anti-terrorism measures, from strengthening Internet censorship to arming more police with guns.