300 Chinese extremists fighting with IS in Iraq, Syria

About 300 Chinese extremists are fighting with dreaded IS militants in Iraq and Syria, the state media reported on Tuesday, raising concerns in China about its impact in the already restive Xinjiang province.

PTI| Last Updated: Dec 16, 2014, 15:30 PM IST

Beijing: About 300 Chinese extremists are fighting with dreaded IS militants in Iraq and Syria, the state media reported on Tuesday, raising concerns in China about its impact in the already restive Xinjiang province.

A report in the state-run Global Times said that Chinese members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), blamed for carrying out terror attacks in Xinjiang, are travelling to Syria via Turkey to join the ISIS.

"According to information from sources, including security officers from Iraq's Kurdish region, Syria and Lebanon, around 300 Chinese extremists are fighting with IS in Iraq and Syria," the Global Times report said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, however, declined to confirm the number.

"I have no specifics available," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang told a media briefing while replying to a question on the report.

Under the current circumstances, the flow of terrorists across the borders has become a new phenomenon which is increasingly becoming obvious, he said.

"Countries should cooperate to fight terrorism so as to jointly maintain peace and stability," he said.

In July, China's envoy to the Middle East, Wu Sike, citing media reports had said about 100 Chinese citizens, most of them from the ETIM, were in the Middle East fighting or being trained.

The militants recruited by the Al-Qaeda backed ETIM are fighting for the independence of Xinjiang, home of about 11 million Uygur Muslims of Turkik origin who are restive over the increasing number of settlements of Han from different parts of China.

The Uygur militants, who have relatives and kin in Turkey, are reportedly travelling to Turkey from where they are crossing over to Syria.

China in the past has criticised Turkey for housing Uygur refugees.

China, which is battling heavy violence in Xinjiang for the past few years with militants crossing over the bases in the tribal areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan through the border region along the PoK, has deployed a large number of security forces in Xinjiang.