China battles to contain militant infiltration via PoK
Beijing: For decades India battled to contain infiltration from Pakistan and it now appears to be the turn of China, which has stepped up patrols along the dreaded Khunjerab Pass bordering PoK to halt the flow of Islamist militants into its restive Muslim-dominated Xinjiang province.
Battling full blown militancy backed by al Qaeda affiliated groups in Xinjiang, the home of native Muslim Uygurs, Chinese military is now engaged in halting the groups of extremists crossing back and forth to Pakistan and Afghanistan through the Khunjerab Pass in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) from where the Karkoram Highway passes through.
"No enemy can cross our border. No weapons can make their way in and no terrorists can reach our targets. These are goals to achieve. They are the bottom line of our mission," a Chinese military official in-charge of border patrols told state-run CCTV.
With intensified attacks in Xinjiang, the stat-run TV has carried a rare detailed news documentary on how soldiers are slugging out to contain infiltration from the Khunjerab Pass, a key link connecting China and Pakistan through the PoK.
"Terrorists targeting China set up training camps just outside China?s outside sovereign territory. From there they inculcate extremists and infiltrate into Xinjiang to launch deadly attacks against civilians. The result is shockingly brutal massacres," said the documentary titled `Defending Kashgar`.
The Khunjerab, also known as `Death Valley` for its harsh cold climate and rugged terrain also has a narrow border pass connecting Afghanistan with Kashgar, China`s border city in Xinjiang, which is facing the brunt of Uygur militancy.
Dozens were killed or injured in a series of militant attacks in Kashgar in the last few days in attacks on Han Chinese.
A well-known pro-government Islamic cleric in one of China`s biggest mosques in the city was also assassinated two days ago.
China blamed al Qaeda-backed East Turkistan Islamic Movement that has reportedly set up training bases in Pakistan`s tribal areas as well as in Afghanistan.
A number of Uygur militants reported to have been killed in recent airstrikes carried out by Pakistan Air Force on their bases in tribal areas.
Chinese officials say Pakistan is cooperating to contain the militants activities.
Chinese soldiers who conduct the foot patrols told the TV that they now have to go through the areas all most every day looking for traces of infiltration.
While there is remote possibility of an encounter due to vastness of space, the troops look for garbage, foot prints cam fires to determine the movements of militants, a soldier said.
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