BEIJING — Six people were reported dead after a knife-wielding man slashed passersby Friday morning following a fight in a market in Changsha, in China's central Hunan province.
Initial witness reports indicated that multiple people — perhaps members of a Turkic minority from northwestern China — were involved. That raised fears of a premeditated attack because militants from that region were implicated in a knifing rampage March 1 that left 33 dead at a train station in Kunming, China.
But within hours, authorities said the incident was the result of a dispute between vendors in the Wujialing district of Changsha. Some witnesses said the assailant was a vendor who sold flat bread from a stall at the market who got into a fight with another man.
Police said the vendor killed the man he was fighting with and then slashed four others to death, state media reported. Authorities shot the attacker dead.
The incident took place about 10 a.m., according to reports.
The dead included an elderly vendor and a man who witnesses said was slashed and stabbed repeatedly, even as he lay bleeding on the ground. Photographs posted on the social media sites showed a man bleeding profusely as he lay face down next to a table of winter jackets. Another showed a mustachioed man handcuffed behind his back by police.
The incident follows a harrowing March 1 knife attack at a train station in Kunming that left 33 dead and 130 injured. Four attackers were killed by police during that attack, and one was taken into custody. Three more were arrested days later. Chinese authorities identified the leader of the March 1 attack as Abdurehim Kurban, but it was unclear if he was among those detained.
There have been more than 200 incidents of violence in the past 12 months in Xinjiang, which some Uighurs refer to as East Turkestan, according to Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.