China Says Attackers 'Pakistan-Trained'

Uyghur group says violence in Xinjiang stems from Beijing's 'discriminatory' policies.
2011-08-01
Email story
Comment on this story
Share
Print story
Chinese soldiers patrol the streets of Kashgar after an earlier outbreak of ethnic violence, July 10, 2009.
Chinese soldiers patrol the streets of Kashgar after an earlier outbreak of ethnic violence, July 10, 2009.
AFP

Han Chinese in the western Kashgar city said they remained mostly indoors on Monday following deadly weekend attacks, as military personnel patrolled the streets and the government blamed "terrorists" trained in Pakistan for the violence.

A statement on the Kashgar city government website accused the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which wants an independent homeland for Xinjiang's Muslim Uyghurs, of orchestrating attacks in the region.

At least 14 people were killed and 40 others injured in separate attacks near the Silk Road city's food market and shopping center on Saturday and Sunday. While state media reported two incidents, one Kashgar resident said there had been three.

One of the attacks left six people dead, and the government said that those attackers had learned bomb-making skills at Pakistani training camps allegedly run by terrorists.

"The heads of the group had learned skills of making explosives and firearms in overseas camps of the terrorist group East Turkestan Islamic Movement in Pakistan before entering Xinjiang," the online statement said.

It added that the attackers adhered to "extremist religious ideology" and advocated "jihad" (the Islamic concept of struggle in Arabic, including a holy war to defend Islam, with force if necessary).

The United States and the United Nations have listed the ETIM as a "terrorist" organization, and China has previously said that the group has operations in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan.

Bloodiest violence

The attacks in Kashgar and those in the nearby city of Hotan two weeks ago in which 20 people were killed are the bloodiest violence in a year in Xinjiang, where Muslim Uyghurs chafe under Chinese rule.

Deadly riots in Xinjiang's regional capital of Urumqi left at least 200 dead in July 2009 following clashes between Han Chinese and Uyghurs.

The Munich-based World Uyghur Congress condemned the Chinese government policies that it said have triggered the violence.

"I do not support violence. I am saddened that Han Chinese and Uyghurs have lost their lives. At the same time, I cannot blame the Uyghurs who carry out such attacks for they have been pushed to despair by Chinese policies," said the group's president, Rebiya Kadeer.

"I condemn the Chinese government for the incident. The Chinese government has created an environment of hopelessness that means it must take responsibility for civilian deaths and injuries caused by their discriminatory policies," she said.

"Without a substantial change to policies that discriminate against Uyghurs economically, culturally and politically the prospect of stability in East Turkestan is remote," The U.S.-based Kadeer said in a statement.

A Han Chinese resident of Kashgar surnamed Guo said Monday that there were army personnel and armed police stationed inside the school where he worked, and that most Han Chinese had stayed at home on Monday.

Armed police in school

Few businesses or institutions were operating normally, Guo said.

"For example, at my school, there are armed police and riot police billeted inside the campus," he said, estimating that around 100 troops were now stationed there.

"A few units arrived yesterday in a few trucks dressed in People's Liberation Army uniform."

"It is pretty serious because there have been three incidents and two people are on the run. Those of us who live in the dormitories haven't been outside."

"I don't think most [Han Chinese are going outside.]"

"They [are] running into the shops where a lot of Han Chinese congregate and killing the shop attendants and businesses owners outright," he said.

A resident surnamed Zhang said spot checks had brought the city center to a standstill. "They are checking taxis...and there are no businesses running; they are all closed," he said.

In the Saturday attack, two attackers hijacked a truck waiting at a red light, killed the driver, and drove the vehicle into the crowd on the street, Xinhua reported on Sunday.

Wielding knives, they jumped down from the truck and stabbed people at random, it said.

"The people...injured in the truck incident were all taken to the Longshan Temple Hospital...there are a lot of police and armed police on guard there now."

'Wanted' posters

A third Kashgar resident who declined to be named said there were now 'Wanted' posters on the streets describing the suspects.

"I saw the Wanted posters when I got up in the morning," the resident said. "There are riot police in all the streets and alleyways. They have been patrolling constantly."

"There will definitely be additional checks on the major intersections going into the city center," he said. "They are a bit more relaxed about checking Han Chinese."

"They are focusing on vehicles from out of town with out-of-town license plates," he said.

The municipal government on Monday issued arrest warrants for two suspects, 29-year-old Memtieli Tiliwaldi and 34-year-old Turson Hasan, both of whom are local ethnic Uyghurs, the warrants said.

Police have offered 100,000 yuan (U.S.$15,384) for information that could lead to their arrests.

Repeated calls to the Kashgar municipal public security bureau went unanswered during office hours on Monday.

However, Xinjiang regional government spokesman Hou Hanmin told Hong Kong's Cable TV that all was now calm in Kashgar.

"Things are very quiet in the city center today," Hou said. "Everyone is going about their daily activities as normal."

"There are vendors on the streets and in the alleyways, and everyone is going to work or wherever they need to go as normal."

"The controls were only in effect during the incident yesterday, and they were all lifted as of this morning," Hou said.

'Stable'

An official who answered the phone at the Kashgar muncipal tourism bureau echoed Hou's account.

"[The incident] ... was dealt with swiftly soon after it happened. Everything is functioning normally in Kashgar now, in a stable manner."

"Because this event only took place two days ago, [the government] is still in the follow-up phase, and has adopted some measures," the official said. "But it wouldn't affect people coming here as tourists."

An Internet user based in Xinjiang said reports about the violence were removed from news websites by Sunday evening.

"I posted them all yesterday on all the sites, but by the evening they had all been deleted," the user said. "I posted them at about 6.00 p.m. on Tencent, Sina, Netease and Sohu, and they all disappeared suddenly between 6.00 p.m. and 7.00 p.m."

An employee who answered the phone at Kashgar's Id Kah Mosque said it was operating as usual.

"There are still prayers being held here," the employee said. "They will take place around 4.00 p.m."

But he said tourists were being kept out.

"Right now, they can't come in," the employee said.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service, and Hai Nan for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

More Listening Options

View Full Site