Cuffed knifeman apologises for 'holy war' assault in Xinjiang

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 June, 2014, 10:47am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 7:14pm

State television yesterday showed a suspect confessing and apologising for an attack on a mahjong parlour in Xinjiang , saying he had been influenced to carry out holy war by other gang members.

China Central Television identified the man as Murzahti and said the interview took place in a local detention centre. A later Xinhua report gave his age as 19. Murzahti spoke in Uygur, the Turkic language of the ethnic minority.

Extremists among Xinjiang's nine million Uygurs have been blamed for a spate of attacks on civilians, including a market bombing last month that killed 43 people in Urumqi, the region's capital.

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CCTV said Murzahti was one of three attackers who entered the mahjong parlour in Hotan city on Sunday last week and began slashing at players with axes.

The people in the parlour fought back with chairs, state media reported.

The three assailants ran outside but were prevented from fleeing the scene by other people armed with sticks until security forces arrived.

The other two attackers were seriously injured and died, authorities said earlier. Four civilians were wounded.

Police said the gang had been influenced by overseas religious extremist videos, CCTV reported. Murzahti said the gang's leader, who was among the dead, had told him that if he died carrying out jihad, or holy war, he would enter heaven directly.

Murzahti, shown with a bandage on his head, said he was sorry for his behaviour. He added that if he was released from detention he would not commit a similar act of violence and would take care of his parents. CCTV often airs footage of suspects apologising for crimes such as theft or fraud and has also shown video footage of high-profile individuals being interrogated.

Critics say airing a confession before an accused is brought to court - and sometimes before charges are officially lodged - is inconsistent with rule of law.

The incident was one in a series of attacks pointing to growing unrest in Xinjiang.

On Saturday, police in Kashgar shot dead 13 assailants who rammed a truck into a police station and set off explosives, state media said. Three officers were wounded.