Chinese police blame ETIM separatist group for deadly Urumqi attack

Ismail Yusup, fugitive member of group, accused of planning attack from abroad

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 May, 2014, 3:42pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 6:49pm

Police blamed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for a train station attack in Urumqi last month that killed three people, Xinhua said on yesterday, the first time the separatist group has been directly linked to the assault.

Seventy-nine people were also injured in the attack late last month. Until now officials had said the attack in the troubled Xinjiang region, home to the Muslim Uygur ethnic group, was carried out by two religious extremists who were also killed in the blast.

Xinhua cited the region's publicity department as saying that ETIM member Ismail Yusup had planned the attack outside China.

"On April 22, he ordered 10 partners in Xinjiang to prepare to strike," Xinhua said.

The 10 set off explosives and slashed people with knives at the exit of the South Railway Station of Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, Xinhua said.

Two members of the group, Saderdin Sawut and Memetabudula Ete, were killed by the explosion, and the eight others were caught by police, Xinhua said.

Mainland police were hunting Yusup in cooperation with the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) Xinhua said.

The agency reported that an investigation had shown that the main members of the gang started to preach Islamic extremism in 2005. Yusup fled abroad after becoming wanted by police for making explosives and joined the ETIM in 2013.

Officials in Xinjiang could not be reached for comment.

An Islamist militant group called the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), which Beijing equates with the ETIM, claimed responsibility for the attack, the SITE Monitoring service, which tracks Islamist militants, has said.

Xinjiang has been beset by violence for years and recent attacks, some of which Beijing has called terrorism, have unnerved the country. More than 100 people have been killed in unrest in the region in the past year. But some of the Turkic-speaking Uygurs chafe at restrictions on their culture, language and religion, though the government insists it grants them freedoms.