Attackers were 'trained in Pakistan'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2011, 12:00am

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Local authorities said yesterday that Muslim extremists trained in Pakistan masterminded one of two deadly attacks over the weekend in restive Xinjiang, which left six victims and five assailants dead.

A police investigation found that organisers of Sunday's attack had learnt gun- and bomb-making skills at a terrorist camp in Pakistan, the Kashgar city government said.

'The heads of the attackers had earlier fled to Pakistan and learned skills of making explosives and firearms in camps of the terrorist group East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) before infiltrating back to Xinjiang,' the statement said.

The attackers adhered to 'extremist religious ideology' and advocated 'jihad' (holy war), it added.

'The malign intention ... was to sabotage inter-ethnic unity and harm social stability.'

Two further suspects, Memtieli Tiliwaldi, 29, and Turson Hasan, 34, were shot dead by police on the outskirts of Kashgar yesterday, the Xinjiang government's website said.

Beijing has long accused the ETIM, which advocates Xinjiang independence, of orchestrating terror attacks in the Western region. Meng Hongwei, deputy public security minister, recently warned of ETIM terrorists sneaking back into the country through Central Asia.

'The malign intention behind this violent terror was to sabotage inter-ethnic unity and harm social stability, provoking ethnic hatred and creating ethnic conflict,' the statement said.

The attackers stormed into a restaurant on Sunday afternoon, setting it on fire after killing the owner and a waiter, and then ran onto the street and hacked four people to death, Xinhua reported. Five terrorists were shot by police. Sunday's attack was the second in Kashgar in 24 hours. On Saturday night, eight civilians were killed and 27 injured when a truck was driven into a busy street by knife-wielding attackers.

At an urgent meeting on Sunday, Xinjiang party chief Zhang Chunxian vowed to crack down on violence and 'illegal religious activities' in the Muslim-majority autonomous region, promising 'resolute and strong-handed measures'.

Zhang said at the meeting in the regional capital, Urumqi, that the central government was 'highly concerned' with the security situation, Xinhua reported.

Hou Hanmin, a Xinjiang government spokeswoman, said vehicles leaving and entering Kashgar would be checked. Security in Urumqi has also been tightened.

Academic Jiang Zhaoyong, a specialist in Xinjiang issues, warned that strong surveillance of Uygurs may build frustration among the minority. Jiang said some Uygurs moved south to Kashgar after deadly 2009 riots in Urumqi as they struggled to find work.

'The recent attacks may severely affect the economy of southern Xinjiang, which makes it more difficult for them to settle down,' he said.

Hong Kong Travel Industry Council chief Joseph Tung Yao-chung said the two Hong Kong tour groups in Kashgar would cancel their activities there and return to Urumqi today. He said two more tours, due depart in mid-August, could be cancelled.

Additional reporting by Ng Yuk-hang