China blames terrorists trained in Pakistan for Xinjiang attack (Lead)

August 1st, 2011 - 2:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 1 (IANS) China Monday blamed terrorists trained in Pakistan for an attack in its Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region that left six dead and 15 injured. An expert said the terror group East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is based on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

State-run Xinhua news agency said a group of religious extremists led by “culprits” trained in overseas terrorist camps were behind the weekend attack on civilians in China’s far-western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The initial probe has shown that the heads of the group had learned skills of making explosives and firearms in overseas camps of the ETIM in Pakistan before entering Xinjiang to organise terrorist activities, the government of Kashgar City said in an online statement.

Six civilians were killed and 15 people, including three policemen, were injured after attackers set fire to a restaurant and went on rampage on civilians in Kashgar Sunday. Five suspects were shot dead by police.

Pan Zhiping, a researcher with the Central Asia Studies Institute under the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, described the ETIM as “the most violent and dangerous” among the “East Turkistan” separatist forces.

He said the group is based somewhere along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The ETIM traditionally trains its members for suicide bombings and car bombings before sending them to Xinjiang, said Pan and other long-time Xinjiang observers.

The government Monday also issued arrest warrants on two suspects who fled the scene.

The two were identified as 29-year-old Memtieli Tiliwaldi and 34-year-old Turson Hasan. Both are local ethnic Uygurs and have primary school education.

The police offered 100,000 yuan ($15,384) for information leading to the arrest of any of the two.

The UN and the Chinese government have labelled the ETIM as an international terrorist organisation.

Sunday’s attack was the second incident of violence in Kashgar over the weekend. On Saturday night, two people hijacked a truck after killing the driver and drove into the crowd. The suspects then jumped out of the truck and hacked bystanders.

Eight civilians were killed and 27 injured. One of the suspects was killed in the clash while the other was apprehended.

The local government did not specifically call Saturday’s violence a terrorist attack.

Zhang Chunxian, secretary of Xinjiang regional committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), has ordered a crackdown on terrorist attacks, religious extremist forces, and illegal religious activities at an emergency meeting held in the regional capital Urumqi following the attacks.

Zhang ordered strengthened management of explosives and said the attacks would greatly damage the region’s stability.

“People in Xinjiang should stay vigilant and recognise that terrorist attackers are the ‘common enemies of all ethnic groups’,” Zhang said.

In Xinjiang, 41.5 percent of population are Uygurs, a largely Muslim Chinese ethnic group. The region borders eight central and west Asian countries, many of which have been attacked by terrorist and extremist groups.

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