A jihadist group has said it was behind recent deadly attacks in China's troubled western region of Xinjiang, releasing a video online which appears to support Beijing's claim that the attacks were carried out by terrorists trained in Pakistan.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online content related to terrorism, released the video, in which a little-known group called the Turkestan Islamic Party claims it was linked to July violence in the Silk Road cities of Hotan and Kashgar that left around 40 people dead.
Issued in late August, the video shows a Uyghur man identified as Memeti Tiliwaldi at what is described as a "terrorist training camp."
In the video, the group’s leader, Abdul Shakoor Damla, says the Hotan and Kashgar attacks were carried out in revenge against the Chinese government.
Official Chinese media reported in early August that police had shot and killed Tiliwaldi after linking him to July 30 and 31 attacks in Kashgar in which at least 18 people died.
Authorities in Xinjiang, where many Uyghurs are unhappy with Chinese rule, are maintaining a tight grip on security in the wake of the attacks and around a regional trade fair last week.
Beijing's initial response to the video was muted.
"I haven't seen the video you mentioned," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a regular news briefing in Beijing.
Liu added: "Our principled position is that at present, a small handful of terrorist forces ... out of motives of splitting China, are conducting rampant violent terrorist activities within China's borders [to] seriously undermine China's national unity and regional peace and stability."
Raids on Uyghurs
Exile Uyghurs have accused the Chinese government of targeting Uyghurs in a series of raids and police campaigns, while at the same time denying them the benefits of the region's vast natural resources and rapid economic development.
Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, said Uyghurs had nonetheless continued to hand out anti-Beijing literature in recent days, defying the extra controls.
Raxit said Kashgar and Hotan, scene of the attacks, had seen an increase in such leaflets, while the government had canceled leave for ruling Communist Party cadres stationed in the region.
He said the most recent series of raids on Uyghur homes came on Sept. 2 in Kashgar's Shufu county, when around 3,000 police officers and local officials were grouped into 250 teams in order to carry out raids on Uyghur homes in the middle of the night.
"The armed raids in that county carried out on Sept. 2 meant that none of the Uyghurs was able to pass that night peacefully," Raxit said.
"More than 10 people were 'disappeared' that night in Shufu county, with no judicial procedures whatsoever," he said. "We still don't know what has happened to them."
Uyghurs say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness despite China's ambitious plans to develop its vast northwestern frontier.
China meanwhile has blamed "hostile overseas forces" for deadly ethnic riots in the regional capital Urumqi in July 2009, in which at least 197 people died.
Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.