Police Defuse Bombs After Blast in Xinjiang's Kashgar Prefecture

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Map showing Yarkand in Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture.
Map showing Yarkand in Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture.

A bomb exploded in front of a police department and four other bombs were defused by authorities in China's troubled Xinjiang region a day after attackers staged a suicide raid in the capital Urumqi last week, according to police Monday.

Three of the four bombs defused on Friday in Yarkand (in Chinese, Shache) county in Kashgar prefecture, southwest of Urumqi, were found in front of police buildings while the fourth was located in front of a gas station near a school, according to a police officer.

Mutellip Hemit, the deputy police chief of Gulbagh township in Yarkand county, said the bombs were discovered after the explosion in front of the county police department on Friday morning.

He refused to elaborate on the damage or casualties from the explosion but said they were minimal.

Police were initially reluctant to confirm the explosion or the discovery of the bombs when contacted by RFA following a tip off by a listener on Friday.

"Yes, we found four time-bombs in different places after a bomb exploded in front of our county police department," Hemit told RFA's Uyghur Service.

"The case is still under investigation and all [key] information related to it are being kept secret because this is a sensitive period and, furthermore, the suspects have not been captured yet," he said.

"I was not officially informed yet but I am assuming that the explosion did not cause a large number of casualties."

Dilmurat Kenji, a police assistant in Gulbagh police station, said he was told that a police vehicle was damaged by the explosion but refused to give other details.  

Last Thursday, five suicide bombers carried out an attack on a vegetable market in Urumqi, leaving 39 people dead and more than 90 others injured in the worst violence in Xinjiang in years amid tensions between ethnic minority Uyghurs and Han Chinese, the dominant ethnic group in China.

Uyghurs in Xinjiang say they are subjected to discriminatory and often violent checks and searches, restrictive religious and cultural policies, and a lack of economic opportunity.

Mass police raids

According to Hemit, the bombs which were located and defused in Yarkand had been placed 50 to 100 meters (164 to 328 feet) from the three police buildings and the gas station in predominantly Han Chinese areas.

"All the four bombs were found and disabled within two hours as a result of mass police raids and investigations on Friday," he said.

Residents in Yarkand county interviewed by RFA said the government should have made public all information about the latest bomb attack so that people could take precautionary steps.

"The blast came as a shock, especially to Han emigrants in our town," said a worker at the county hospital. "You can easily see that they were all nervous. It is written all over their faces."

Seyit Tumturk, the vice-president of the exile World Uyghur Congress, said the authorities may be causing more harm by concealing information about the blast.

"The residents have the right to know what is happening around them. It is harmful for both the Han Chinese and Uyghur residents in the area as any information can help them take precautionary steps," he said.

China's official news agency Xinhua and other state controlled media were quick to report Thursday's Urumqi attack, in which most of the victims were ethnic Han elderly shoppers.

China Central Television said Monday the elite Politburo, a decision-making body of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, met under the chairmanship of President Xi Jinping and discussed measures to counter "extremists" in Xinjiang in the wake of Thursday's explosions.

Beijing has announced a one-year crackdown to hunt down and punish "terrorists" in Xinjiang and "prevent terrorism and extremism from spreading to other regions."

Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA's Uyghur Service. Translated by Shohret Hoshur. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.





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