An imam of a mosque in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, said Tuesday that the three Uygur men — two shot dead and one was injured on Monday — had been attempting to instigating prayers and attacking a security guard.
The imam, who said on condition of anonymity that about 150 Muslims were having a Monday prayer from 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the mosque on Jiefang South Road, when one of the men stood up and tried to grab the speaker from the imam. But he was stopped.
Minutes later, the man stood up again, holding a green banner and shouting calls for "jihad". He also asked the prayers to follow him, the imam said.
The imam said he decided to end the religious ritual and told the man "We will definitely not follow you. Get out!" No prayers at the scene showed any sign of intention to go with the man, the imam added.
When the imam called for driving the man out of the mosque, two men, who later proved to be his partners, took out three knives about 50 cm long from a bag and tried to force the prayers to follow them.
Security guards of the mosque immediately came over to stop the mobs. One of the Uygur guards in his forties, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was starting to run with frightened prayers, in an attempt to lead the mobs away.
The mobs ran after him out of the mosque and down the road, wielding the knives, until they were stopped by patrolling police.
The police were forced to shoot at the men after they fired warning shots in a failed attempt to stop them from attacking the guard. Two died at the scene and the injured person was rushed to the People's Hospital.