A bombing in western China that killed three people and wounded 79 on Wednesday has raised concerns about the apparent sophistication and daring of the attack, which possibly was timed to coincide with a visit to the heavily Muslim region by President Xi Jinping.

Assailants used explosives and knives in the attack on a railway station in Urumqi. It was the first bomb attack in the capital of Xinjiang province in 17 years and came at a time of likely heavy security soon after a train arrived from a mainly Han Chinese province.

The government blamed the attack on "terrorists," a term it uses to describe Islamist militants and separatists in Xinjiang who have waged a sometimes violent campaign for an independent state of East Turkestan, stirring fears that jihadist groups could become active in western China.