Militants had no overseas terror links, official says
The militant groups that launched three bloody attacks in Hotan and Kashgar in late July were homegrown and had no foreign terror links, Xinjiang authorities said yesterday as they released new details about the assailants.
Most members of the two groups, whose attacks left 32 dead and dozens more wounded, were all from Xinjiang's restive Uygur communities and procured their weapons locally, said the director of the government's news office in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
'No clues have suggested that the groups were masterminded by overseas militant organisations,' the official, Hou Hanmin, quoted a senior local police officer as saying.
The government's findings contradict claims in late August by the foreign-based Xinjiang-independence group, Turkestan Islamic Party, which sought to take credit for the deadly attacks.
Hou noted the group had made similar baseless claims before.
'Almost all key members of both of the groups were Uygurs from different places in Xinjiang, while the weapons they used were bought locally,' Hou said.
The new details emerged two days after four Uygurs involved in the attacks were reportedly sentenced to death by local courts.
In the first attack, 18 people, including 14 assailants, were killed when a group of alleged terrorists attacked a police station at the heart of the southern city of Hotan on July 18.
The attack's ringleader trained trained two accomplices in Hotan and Urumqi between May last year and July, in hopes of building a terrorist organisation, the Urumqi-based news website www.tianshannet.com.cn reported.
Some local residents blamed the attack on government campaign to ban Uygur women from traditional Islamic veils and robes.
Hou denied allegations that the defendants had been tortured. All were entitled to a legal representative, either hired by themselves or assigned by authorities, during the hearings, he said.
Dilxadi Rexiti, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uygur Congress, told the Associated Press the suspects were 'desperate people who took measures they should not have taken', but he denied that they had links to organised terror.