Beijing: Sixteen people were killed in a clash in China’s Xinjiang region, which is a home to the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, it just happened in less than two months after a fiery attack in Tiananmen Square.
Police attempting to detain criminal suspects in Shufu County near the Silk Road city of Kashgar, deep in far western China, were attacked by several “thugs” armed with explosive devices and knives.
Two police officers were killed and 14 of the “The incident comes less than two months after an attack in Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of the Chinese state, when according to police, three Xinjiang Uighurs ploughed into crowds of tourists, killing two people and injuring 40, before crashing outside the Forbidden City and setting their vehicle ablaze.
Beijing described the assault, the first blamed on Uighurs outside Xinjiang, as “terrorism” and said separatists backed by the militant East Turkestan Islamic Movement were responsible.
But outside experts pointed to the unsophisticated nature of the attack and the lack of an established Islamist extremist foothold in China.
Xinjiang, a vast area bordering Pakistan and Central Asia beyond the furthest reaches of the Great Wall, has followed Islam for centuries.
For years it has seen sporadic unrest by Uighurs which rights groups say is driven by cultural oppression, intrusive security measures and immigration by China’s Han majority, but Beijing attributes to religious extremists, terrorism and separatism.
They ordered local officials to chart a “relationship tree” of links between students in Turpan and those overseas, it said.
China arrested more than 1,000 people for “endangering state security”, a charge commonly brought against ethnic minorities, in 2012, up nearly 20 per cent from the previous year, the US-based Dui Hua Foundation said last month citing official figures.