China: Eight killed in police- militants clashes

The trend, if unchecked, could lead to more bloodshed as extremists are becoming bolder, and their attacks more brutal, they warned.

Last Updated: Dec 29, 2011, 15:41 PM IST

Beijing: Eight persons, including seven
"terrorists", were killed in what officials on Thursday said was a
hostage rescue mission in the China`s restive Muslim-dominated
Xinjiang province bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

According to the officials, a group of "violent
terrorists" kidnapped two people in the remote mountainous
areas of Pishan county in Hotan prefecture of Xinjinag.

Police officers opened fire after kidnappers "resisted
arrest" during a raid last night, state-run Xinhua quoted
spokesman with the Xinjiang regional government as saying.

"They were holding weapons, and they injured the local
police," said the spokeswoman, who identified the kidnappers
and their hostages as Uygur, mainly Muslim ethnic group.
Significantly the report said "there was speculation that
the kidnapping was linked to a surge in religious extremism in
the Uygur-dominated area that borders the Kashmir region
controlled by Pakistan and India".

China faces separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement
(ETIM) in Xinjiang where Uyghurs Muslims resented the
increasing settlements of Han Chinese from the mainland.

A similar attack in Kashmghar, a border town close to
PoK, was blamed by the local government on the terrorist
training camps in Pakistan after which Islamabad stepped up
crackdown against ETIM militants.

Xinhua also reported about another kidnapping earlier
this month in Pishan in which the extremists murdered a Uygur
man for drinking alcohol, an act prohibited in Islam.

Pishan, like many towns and villages in the south of
Xinjiang, is predominantly populated by Uygurs, and the Han
people, China`s majority ethnicity, account for less than 2
per cent of the local population. The region is no stranger to
violence.

In the nearby city of Hotan in July, a mob stormed a
police station, hurled burning gasoline cylinders into rooms,
took hostages, and attacked people indiscriminately with axes
and knives.

Eighteen people, including 14 attackers, were killed in
the clash with police forces.

Days after the violence, two separate public attacks
occurred in the city of Kashgar, another city in the south of
Xinjiang, leaving 13 people dead and 44 others injured.
Authorities said overseas-trained terrorists were
responsible for the attacks.
Four suspects involved in the Hotan and Kashgar attacks
were sentenced to death by a Chinese court in September.
Security experts said recent violence shows that marks of
religious extremism are on the rise.

The trend, if unchecked, could lead to more bloodshed as
extremists are becoming bolder, and their attacks more brutal,
they warned, the report said.

PTI