The surviving attacker in a brutal assault in Hotan prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, has apologized and said he was lucky not to have been killed like his two accomplices by the fierce resistance of the people they ambushed on June 15.
Muer Zhati, who has a wound on his head, said in the Uygur language during a China Central Television interview that he was motivated by other attackers and thought he was engaged in jihad.
"They (conspirators) talked about 'jihad' and said we would skip Yawm al-Din (judgment) and enter Jannah (heaven) directly after we fought and died for jihad," he said.
"I was persuaded and did such thing (hacking people ). ... I am sorry, I want to apologize for what I did. ... I just want to say sorry."
Though he appeared to be a devout Muslim, Zhati could not answer simple questions about Muslim doctrine asked by the CCTV reporter, such as the exact definition of jihad.
Police said most of the terrorism suspects in Xinjiang are influenced by extremism and illegal religious activities.
On June 15, Zhati and the two other attackers broke into a venue in Hotan where residents were playing mahjong. Security camera footage showed they talked with each other for about 90 seconds before breaking into the room and attacking people with axes and knives. Zhati was the second to attack the people inside and he hacked the only female victim.
The three were soon subdued and captured by residents and police officers. Two of the attackers died from their injuries. Four people were injured in the fight with the attackers.
"I felt a little scared after people in the room fought back at us with tables and chairs," Zhati said.
The attackers tried to escape, only to find the place was encircled by people carrying different weapons. They tried to kill those blocking their way but failed. Armed patrol officers arrived and brought the situation under control. Zhati said he was lucky to be caught.
"I am still alive. If I could, by any chance, be released, I would never do such thing again," he said. "I would take care of my parents."
The courageous fight the residents put up against the terrorists - after local people recently subdued three suicide bombers carrying machetes, daggers and explosive devices in Pishan - has injected new impetus into Xinjiang's fight to eradicate the terrorist threat in the region.
In staunch support, the local government rewarded 300,000 yuan ($48,200) to the people who overwhelmed the attackers in Hotan.
China launched a yearlong campaign against terrorism, with Xinjiang in the center, after a terrorist attack on May 22 in an open market in the regional capital Urumqi. Residents have been mobilized to contribute to the campaign by reporting any suspected terrorist activities.