China sentences three to death for Tiananmen Square attack

China sentenced three people to death on Monday for a deadly attack at Beijing`s Tiananmen Square last October, state television reported, an incident blamed by the government on Islamist militants.

Reuters| Updated: Jun 16, 2014, 10:29 AM IST

Beijing: China sentenced three people to death on Monday for a deadly attack at Beijing`s Tiananmen Square last October, state television reported, an incident blamed by the government on Islamist militants.

Another attacker was given a life sentence, and four others received jail terms ranging from five to 20 years.

Five people were killed and 40 hurt when a car ploughed into a crowd at the northern edge of Tiananmen Square and burst into flames. Those killed included two bystanders and three people in the car.

Two of those sentenced, named in a state media report, appeared to have ethnic Uighur names. The western province of Xinjiang is the traditional home of the Turkic-speaking Uighurs, and China has blamed previous knife and bomb attacks on separatists who seek to establish an independent state there called East Turkestan.

China has been on edge since a suicide bombing last month killed 39 people at a market in Xinjiang`s capital of Urumqi.

Police in Xinjiang have arrested or tried dozens of suspects in recent weeks for spreading extremist propaganda, possessing banned weapons and other crimes.

Knife-wielding attackers in western China wounded four people in a crowded chess hall in the city of Hotan on Sunday, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said in a separate report on Monday. Two of the attackers died from serious injuries and a third was arrested.

The motive for Sunday`s attack was not immediately clear.

Rights activists and exile groups have charged that the government`s own repressive policies in Xinjiang have sowed the seeds of unrest, a claim Beijing denies.

In March, 29 people were stabbed to death at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming.