Blasts in China`s Xinjiang kill two, injure `many`: Govt
Two people were killed and "many" injured as explosions erupted in multiple locations in China`s Xinjiang Sunday, according to authorities in the ethnically divided region that is on edge after a series of violent incidents this year.
Beijing: Two people were killed and "many" injured as explosions erupted in multiple locations in China`s Xinjiang Sunday, according to authorities in the ethnically divided region that is on edge after a series of violent incidents this year.
The blasts struck at least three locations in Luntai County in the region`s south, including a shopping area, the Xinjiang government`s Tianshan web portal said Monday.
The report did not say what caused the explosions or give a precise number of injured.
Clashes between locals and security forces in Xinjiang -- located in China`s far west and home to the mostly-Muslim Uighur minority -- as well as attacks targeting civilians have killed more than 200 people in the past year.
Beijing blames the violence on "terrorist" groups seeking independence for the region, while rights groups say that cultural and religious oppression of Uighurs has fuelled resentment.
The attacks have grown in scale and sophistication over the last year and have spread outside the region.
Among the most shocking attacks was a May assault on a market in the regional capital Urumqi, where more than 30 people were killed, and a deadly rampage by knife-wielding assailants at a train station at Kunming in China`s southwest in March, which left 29 dead.
China launched a crackdown in the region following the Urumqi attack, detaining hundreds of people described as suspected terrorists.
Earlier this month three people who appeared to be Uighur were sentenced to death and another to life in prison for the Kunming knife attack.
Authorities in Xinjiang tightly control religious gatherings and are carrying out a campaign against Islamic veils and beards.Local officials did not provide details about Sunday`s explosions when contacted by AFP. Media in the region is tightly controlled, making reports hard to verify.
Reports on Chinese social media said a local shopping mall in Luntai was hit by a blast on Sunday.
A woman working at a nearby hotel told AFP that she heard the explosion, but had no other details.
A female member of staff at a separate hotel nearby said the road leading to the shopping mall had been blocked.
"Police officers can be seen everywhere around the mall," she said.
"China`s policies have led people to resist fiercely in order to maintain their dignity," Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress exile group said in a statement in response to the explosions.
Also on Monday state-media reported that 17 government officials in Xinjiang have been disciplined for failing to prevent terrorist attacks.
The top Communist party official in Shache county, where clashes in July killed dozens, was among those sacked, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported.
Last week China put Ilham Tohti, a Uighur academic who is an outspoken critic of China`s policies in the region, on trial for separatism.
A court in Urumqi is due to deliver its verdict in the case on Tuesday, his lawyers said, in a move critics say could add to tensions.
The latest explosions came as China`s supreme court on Sunday distributed new wide-ranging guidelines on prosecuting terrorism cases.
"Making and showing banners and other material of religious extremism will be criminalised," the state-run Xinhua news agency said in a summary of the regulations.
The court also said that the use of insults such as "religious traitor" and "heretic", could lead to criminal conviction.
Xinjiang, a resource-rich region which abuts Central Asia, is home to about 10 million Uighurs, who mostly follow Sunni Islam.
Many complain of economic inequality and discrimination.
Beijing regularly accuses what it says are exiled Uighur separatist groups such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and the Turkestan Islamic Party as being behind attacks.
But overseas experts doubt the strength of the groups and their links to global terrorism, with some saying China exaggerates the threat to justify tough security measures in Xinjiang.