China launches international hunt for alleged Xinjiang train station attacker

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 11:36am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 6:44pm

China has launched an international manhunt for the alleged mastermind behind an attack at a train station last month blamed on extremists from the Muslim Uygur ethnic group.

The China Daily said a request had been lodged with Interpol for the arrest of Ismail Yusup and an unspecified number of associates.

The report said Yusup was a member of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and organised the April 30 attack in Urumqi, the capital of the northwestern Xinjiang region, that killed three people and injured 79 others.

Beijing says an organised militancy with elements based overseas is behind a rising number of terrorist attacks in the country. Little evidence has been provided to back up the claim and many analysts doubt such an organisation exists.

Seven suspects in the Urumqi attack were arrested last week in Jimsar, a prosperous township in a rapidly developing economic zone north of the Tianshan mountains.

They were found at a farm after an intensive search.

Most come from the same family, and include two brothers, a cousin and the wife of Sedirdin Sawut, a 39-year-old suspect who allegedly took part in the attack, brandishing a knife before detonating a suicide bomb.

Public security authorities in Xinjiang posted a 100,000 yuan (HK$125,000) reward for information leading to the suspects’ arrest.

Similar attacks have occurred in several large cities this year, increasing tensions between China’s ethnic minorities and the majority Han population, with security precautions being upgraded in almost every region.

Many provinces and regions have held major anti-terrorism drills, with security levels increased significantly, after a knife attack in March at a railway station in Kunming claimed the lives of 33 people, including four of the attackers. Officials also blame that attack on Uygur separatists.