The Heroes of Kunming
“I’m here, Come and stab me! Come! Come! Come!” – Zhang Liyuan
In the aftermath of the Kunming Railway Station knife attack, police officers and witnesses are starting to tell their stories. In the midst of evil, bravery came out from many of the officers, security guards, and citizens at the scene. Here are some of them, starting with the train station police officer Zhang Liyuan.
At the scene of the 3-01 Kunming Railway Station knife attack, Zhang Liyuan (张立元), a public security officer on duty, attracted the terrorists to come towards him and away from the crowd of civilians. With no weapons at his disposal, he challenged the terrorists to come after him, and suffered injuries before the police arrived, and then he helped subdue the attackers. He is now recovering at the Liberation Army hospital in Kunming.
Legal Daily describes Zhang’s actions on the night of the attack:
Lying in bed, Zhang Liyuan recalls to us the situation that night.
On March 1 at 9 pm, Kunming Railway Station was experiencing the peak number of travelers.
“The square is in trouble! The square is in trouble!” said shouts coming through on his hand-held walkie-talkie. Zhang Liyuan felt that something was not right. Clutching his walkie-talkie, he headed toward the station…
He recalled to reporters: “Once I got to the luggage storage room, I was face-to-face with a thug in a jacket carrying a knife. He rushed towards me with the knife. Then I ran towards the parking lot where there weren’t as many people to attract him there.”
“But he didn’t run after me. Instead he ran towards the entrance to the station where people were concentrated.” Zhang Liyuan thought, this is bad. If the scoundrel goes towards the station entrance then there will be even more people injured.
“I’m here, Come and stab me! Come! Come! Come!” Zhang Liyuan yelled, trying to get the criminal to run over to the parking lot where there weren’t as many people.
After he continued shouting, the terrorist finally came after him. At that point the police were on their way, and they arrived shortly after. Once the police came, they used batons and riot forks (poles that creak a barrier that keeps attackers out of arms reach). At that point, they still didn’t know how many attackers there were.
No one thought at that time that there were three more knife-wielding attackers coming from behind…
“At once, there were three reinforcement thugs, and later there was another. Three men, two women, in total five,” Zhang Liyuan recalled.
In this intense situation, Zhang Liyuan’s thumb and forefinger was slashed. “At that time, there was just a piece of skin holding it. My whole hand was bloody,” he recalled.
After Zhang Liyuan and his colleagues were stabbed, the five thugs rushed towards the crowd…
A few minutes later, the five criminals were met by reinforcements rushed over from the special police division.
“Our force leader She Lin had his head cut with a knife. Another officer was stabbed in the chest. I was just stabbed in the hand. It’s nothing too serious. They are in the intensive care unit,” said Zhang Liyuan, choking up.
“Hearing how many people died, my heart is very heavy,” Zhang Liyuan said.
Zhang’s hand has been stitched back together.
Southern Weekend reported on some security guards who sacrificed their lives to fight the terrorists:
Two security guards were the bravest people of the day. Chen Yugui said at that time, there was a security guard, Lau Liu (老刘), at a beef noodle restaurant who stopped one of the terrorists. He was stabbed in the chest and collapsed in blood.
46-year-old Zhang Jianyuan is from Kunming city, Luquan county. In his life, he was a security guard at Kunming station. That night, he picked up a metal stick to fight against the terrorists, but he was surrounded by five of them and stabbed to death. At that time, an attacker came towards Zhang Jianyuan’s colleague Ding Xuefu, but Zhang used the metal bar to block the knife and save Ding’s life.
Southern Weekly describes how police officer Xie Qinming (谢启明） played a key role in ending the attack:
Across the crowd, fearing unintentional injury, the police couldn’t rashly shoot. Xie Qinming and his fellow cadres led the terrorists towards Beijing Road. While running, Xie Qinming shouted at the gangsters, “Put the knife down,” in Mandarin. “I don’t know whether they understood [the Mandarin]. They were also yelling at us, but what they said, we couldn’t understand.” Several of the thugs didn’t stop but crossed Beijing Road and chased police officers.
As the sides neared the Beijing Road and Yongping Road intersection, the police decided to surround the terrorists, “but there were a lot of people nearby,” so they decided to bring the confrontation closer to Sanye Restaurant where there were less people before they proceeded.
Map of the surrounding area (from Apple Maps)
That’s when Xie Qinming fired on the attackers:
After he fired two shots at them, the five gangsters turned their attention towards Xie Qinming and started surrounding him and stabbing him. Xie Qinming, clad in body armor, discharged all the bullets in his gun. One of the knives opened a hole in his head, cut off his nose. His body armor had been broken by the cuts, and his chest and pants were covered in blood.
In the midst of a stalemate, an 81 style automatic riffle equipped with 30 rounds of ammunition finally put an end to this terrible disaster.