A terrifying gang assault on Sydney train passengers has left two international students seriously injured and caused a media storm in China.
The alleged robbery, including racist taunts, drew a social media pledge from former foreign affairs minister Kevin Rudd and led to emergency talks at Sydney's Chinese consulate general.
Police said six people, aged 14 to 18, robbed passengers on a train between Central and Rockdale about 12.30am yesterday.
Officers were called to Rockdale station about 15 minutes later, where they arrested three men, two aged 18 and one 19, a 14-year-old boy and two girls, aged 16 and 17.
They were all charged with a number of robbery and assault offences.
Yesterday's attack came just days after two safety warnings from the Chinese embassy in Canberra for citizens travelling in Australia. Many Chinese students studying in Australia have expressed their fear over growing violence directed against them.
One of the victims of the attack, known as Xuan, suffered from a fractured nose and burns from a lit cigarette.
The international student from China, seeking a master's degree at the University of Technology, Sydney, was travelling with a friend from Central to Rockdale when the attack happened.
A translation from Xuan's blog on the Chinese social media site Weibo reads: “I really wish all of this is just a nightmare. However, the smell of blood in my mouth and body pains reminds me that this city is so dangerous.
“A gang of hooligans attacked us. Our noses are fractured and our bodies are covered in blood. My friend's cheekbone was crushed. They attacked us with glass and burnt us with lit cigarettes. My face is burnt and totally disfigured! Worst of all, I really hated their racist comments.
“They were calling us Asian dogs and pussies while they were beating us. When my friend tried to wipe blood from his nose, a teenaged girl stuffed my friend's mouth with her tampon removed from her pants.”
Another woman passenger, who was also targeted by the thieves, allegedly told the attackers to “rob them, they are Asian and they have got money”.
They attacked us with glass and burnt us with lit cigarettes. My face is burnt and totally disfigured! Worst of all, I really hated their racist comments
Xuan and his friend were treated at St George Hospital in Sydney's south-west.
He said he would now take leave from study and return to China.
The incident has caused outrage in the Chinese student community across the country and Xuan's initial post was re-tweeted more than 10,000 times. Thousands of Chinese students have expressed their disgust online.
The incident has made headlines acrosss China, including on the popular news sites Sina News and the English language Shanghai Daily.
Chinese consular officials have also publicly expressed their support for the students. Fairfax Media understands that officials met at the Consulate General in Sydney this morning to discuss the incident.
Mr Rudd, a new Weibo user, told one of his online followers, writing in Chinese, that he “will try to approach the police and department of education"on behalf of the victims.
This website has sought comment from Mr Rudd's office.
One Sydney-based international student said: "Australia is known for its tolerance and multi-culturalism. Yet there is still a tiny minority who discriminate against the international students, especially the younger people."
"You can accept people with different sexual orientations. But why can't you accept people from different cultural backgrounds?"
Xuan also expressed his anger and disappointment at the lack of help from train staff and other passengers.
“Though there were no police on the train, there were many other people and train staff. It even stopped once at Wolli Creek, but nobody helped us!”
Peter Cai is The Age's Asian Affairs Reporter