Massive anti-terror campaign boosted by hundreds of tips from Xinjiang residents

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 3:32pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 4:25pm

Residents have given the Xinjiang authorities hundreds of tips amid widespread public support for the campaign against terror in the restive region, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

Counterterrorism officials have received more than 300 tips and detained 60 people as a result. More than 160 explosive devices and 40kg of material used to make bombs have been seized. In addition, two sites where illegal audio and video material was recorded have been raided.

The suspects held were part of nine groups allegedly involved in terrorism which were targeted by police. One extremist religious group was also raided following tips to police from locals.

The massive crackdown follows a string of violent attacks in Xinjiang and other mainland cities which Beijing has blamed on separatists from the region. As part of the campaign, local residents were urged to volunteer information in return for cash rewards.

People from Pishan county – home to the alleged masterminds behind the suicide bomb attacks in Xinjiang on May 23 which left 39 people dead and 94 injured – even set up roadblocks to inspect suspicious cars and people.

They found three suspects carrying explosives and seized them. Two civilians were injured during clashes. One of the injured men told Xinhua one of the suspects was acting suspiciously.

He said: “He looked suspicious, bulging as if he had explosives on him. He said we were all Muslim and Uyghurs and do not betray each other. He said we should let them carry on with what they were doing. I was then convinced that they were terrorists and must be caught.”

He added: “An attacker came upon me and I almost passed out after being beaten with a stone. I stood up to fight them and seized a dagger and lighter.”

The attackers were overpowered and 12 explosive devices and a hacking knife were seized. With the help of other residents, Pishan county police found 12 other explosive devices buried in a cotton field.

The identities of those who helped police have been protected to avoid retribution.

On May 24, Yutian county police detained three suspects and seized three explosive devices following tips from local residents.

A day later, villagers reported to police in Bachu county five men with folded sickles sleeping in a ditch. They then attacked police officers while chanting slogans proclaiming holy war. Three suspects were killed or injured and another was captured.

Local residents from Cele, Luntai and Korla counties reported to police people who were spreading religious extremism or were holding illegal meeting, resulting in nine detentions.

Some people have handed in guns, explosive devices and ammunition or turned themselves in after attending extremist meetings.