A single knife-wielding assailant allegedly wounded six people in an attack on Tuesday at a railway station in China's southern city of Guangzhou, police and state media said, in the latest of a series of assaults to raise jitters around the country.
The slashings came despite heightened security countrywide in the wake of two deadly attacks at train stations blamed on extremists from western China. The country also has seen mass stabbings carried out by people with grudges against society or who were deemed mentally ill.
Police gave no reason for the attack, but China has grown increasingly nervous about Islamic militancy, especially after a car burst into flames on the edge of Beijing's Tiananmen Square in October and 29 people were stabbed to death in March in the southwestern city of Kunming.
The government blamed militants from the restive western region of Xinjiang for both those attacks. Resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of central Asia, Xinjiang has for years been beset by violence blamed by the Chinese government on Islamist militants.
Guangzhou police "arrived quickly on the scene" on Tuesday and shot one of the attackers.
Despite earlier reports on state media that up to four assailants may have been involved, Guangzhou police said on their official microblog that their initial probe found there was just a single suspect. He had been shot and wounded.
"After verbal warnings were ineffective, police fired, hitting one male suspect holding a knife, and subdued him," Guangzhou police said.
They did not identify the attacker.
State television said that reports police had picked up another suspect near the station were also wrong, and that a person who had been detained had nothing to do with the case.
Provincial television showed pictures of what it said was an apparently injured suspect being pressed to the ground by police and plainclothes security officials, as they removed a bloodied white T-shirt.
It was not possible to see the person's face.
One Guangzhou newspaper cited witnesses as saying that the attackers — there were more than one, it initially reported — carried 20-inch knives and wore white clothes, including white hats.
Another newspaper quoted a store owner who claimed he had witnessed the violence as saying the suspects squatted on the ground next to his shop for about two hours before carrying out their attack.
Photos circulated online in state media showed police cordoning off an empty plaza, with an ambulance parked nearby and bloodspots on the ground.
Last week, a suicide bombing at a train station in Xinjiang — where a Uighur Muslim population has long complained of heavy-handed Chinese policies that place curbs on Islam and Uighur language — left three people dead and 79 injured, prompting Chinese President Xi Jinping to demand "decisive actions" against terrorism.
In March, five knife-wielding men and women believed to be Uighurs slashed at crowds at a railway station in Kunming city in southwestern China, killing 29 people and injuring more than 140. Four attackers were killed by police.
The government called the attackers "terrorists," a term it uses to describe a group of Islamist militants in Xinjiang they say is waging a campaign for an independent East Turkestan state.
Beijing is unhappy at the U.S. State Department's 2013 country reports on terrorism, published last month, which said China's cooperation on fighting terrorism "remained marginal" and that the Chinese provided scarce evidence to prove "terrorist" involvement in incidents in Xinjiang.