Updated: 05/23/2014 02:37 | By Agence France-Presse

Blood-stained bodies and scattered fruit left by China attack

Slumped next to fruit ordinarily for sale but now scattered on the ground, blood-stained bodies were grim evidence of a terrifying attack on a market that left 31 dead in China's Xinjiang region on Thursday.

Blood-stained bodies and scattered fruit left by China attack

Chinese policemen patrol along the streets after attackers killed at least 31 people on May 22, 2014, when they ploughed two vehicles into a market and threw explosives in the capital of China's Xinjiang region, in Urumqi - by Goh Chai Hin

"I saw people lying all over the place, it was a very bad sight. There was blood everywhere," said a taxi driver surnamed Pan, who was one of the first to arrive at the scene after explosives were thrown at the street market from two vehicles which ploughed into shoppers and traders.

The scene in Urumqi, in the restive Xinjiang region, would normally be a hive of activity, with elderly people buying and selling vegetables and fruit displayed in wooden carts and cardboard boxes parked on the narrow pavements, Pan said.

But that picture of calm had evaporated minutes after the attack early on Thursday, with many of the dead laying in the middle of the road and survivors sat on stools still in shock, their faces covered in blood, graphic images which Pan took with his mobile phone showed.

Other images showed market stalls lying collapsed on the floor, with bodies motionless in pools of blood alongside them.

Another showed the mangled wreckage of a bicycle, lying on the floor next to a lifeless body, while an elderly woman behind attempted to get to her feet, appearing dazed with blood covering half her face.

The devastating attack was described by authorities as the latest "severe terrorist incident" to hit the Muslim Uighur homeland.

"When I saw the victims I felt shocked, and then I felt really angry. Angry towards the terrorists," Pan told AFP, still visibly moved by what he had witnessed.

"How can they do this at a market where elderly people shop?"

More than 90 people were also wounded when the two off-road vehicles drove into the crowd, with one exploding.

Pan's images clearly show a huge ball of fire at the end of the street with startled shoppers in the foreground still clutching their groceries.

A local restaurant owner named Shan told AFP that many of the residents living nearby were battling to come to terms with what had happened.

"It was very horrible today, I was very scared," Shan told AFP.

"The street is cordoned off now. There are loads of police outside, and no businesses are open."

Many of the shops and restaurants at the scene of the attack, Gongyuan Bei Jie, or North Park Street, gradually opened during the course of the day as authorities cleared up much of the devastation. 

One resident told AFP that cleaners had been deployed to clear up the blood-stained road.

China commonly attempts to clear such scenes to ensure the local population returns to normal as quickly as possible.

But for Pan, what he witnessed will not easily leave his mind.

"I still can't believe what I saw," he said, staring at his mobile phone.

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