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March 1, 2014, was China’s 9/11. That was the day Islamic Uighur terrorists slashed their way into the collective consciousness of the country’s ethnic Han majority.

That fateful day, a group of eight militants launched an attack at the main railway station in Kunming, Yunnan Province. Armed with long-bladed knives, they killed 29 people and wounded 143; four of the assailants were killed while the same number were arrested. The savage assault was attributed to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a Uighur group that supports the establishment of an East Turkestan state and has alleged ties to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. East Turkestan is the name many Uighurs prefer to use for their home province of Xinjiang referring to a short-lived state that existed in the 1940s before being incorporated by China in 1949.

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