At least 34 people died and 140 were wounded in what authorities here are calling a "terrorist attack committed by separatist forces of (the northwestern province of) Xinjiang" at a train station in southern China, just before a key annual political meeting in Beijing.

Among the dead are 29 civilians killed by the attackers and five supposed terrorists themselves who were gunned down by police in Kunming, the capital of the southern province of Yunnan.

The attack was staged at the local train station with knives starting about 9 p.m. (1300 GMT), according to the Shanghai newspaper Jiefang Daily.

Some users of Weibo, China's version of Twitter, say that about a dozen people dressed in black and wearing masks entered the station acting "crazy" and began indiscriminately stabbing and slashing people with knives.

The CCTV television station reported Sunday that one of the attackers killed by police was a woman, who died shortly after being shot, while another was arrested by security forces and is being held in a police station in Kunming.

Liu Chen, a 19-year-old student from the central city of Wuhan in Hubei province, was at the train station waiting to buy a ticket when the attack occurred.

"At first, I thought it was just some people quarreling, but then I saw blood and heard many people shouting and I just ran," said the young man, as quoted by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The annual session of the main Chinese political advisory entity, the People's Political Consultative Congress, meets on Monday just three days before the National People's Congress, China's legislature, holds its annual meeting.

This is a delicate moment for the Chinese government, which has significantly upped security in advance of the meetings given the attack staged four months ago on Beijing's Tiananmen Square before the Chinese Communist Party's annual conference.

Five people were killed and 40 wounded on that occasion, allegedly by terrorist forces linked to Xinjiang, the home of the Uyghur ethnic minority, a Muslim group with separatist leanings which is severely at odds with the country's Han majority.

The Uyghurs, however, have not claimed responsibility for that attack or for the one at the train station. EFE