Beijing: China has set up a national anti-terrorism team to lead an intensified campaign to fight increasing militancy in the country, specially in the restive Uyghur Muslim-inhabited Xinjiang province, where reports said 23 people were recently shot dead by police.
Guo Shengkun, Minister of Public Security and leader of the new team, said the body will fully mobilise government resources and take every effort to fight terrorism to avoid the risk of social damage, an official statement said.
"We must upgrade our efforts to fight terrorism, hitting hard the complacency of terrorist acts," Guo said, adding that international cooperation on anti-terrorist efforts will also be deepened.
The country has intensified its anti-terrorism efforts in recent years, especially following an increasing number of terrorist attacks by members of East Tukministan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, including one in which 15 people, including police officers and civil servants, were killed in the region`s capital, Kashghar.
Xijiang has become volatile in recent years after clashes in 2009 between Uyghur Muslims and Han Chinese settlers.
Uyghurs are Muslims of Turkik origin who are the natives of the province and complain against the increasing Han Chinese settlements in their province.
Meanwhile, latest reports said one Chinese police man was killed in an anti-terrorism operation in the province whereas, Uighur groups based overseas alleged that 23 Uyghurs were shot dead by police recently. There is no official confirmation yet of either incident.
"Terrorism has been severe in recent years mainly in Xinjiang. The establishment of the national team has upgraded the anti-terrorism level in China, showing the determined mind of the central government to fight against these terrorists," Pan Zhiping, a research fellow with the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told state-run daily Global Times.
This is not the first time that the government has established such an institution.
The national Anti-terrorism Coordination Team was established in 2001 following the terrorist attack against the US on September 11. The office of the team was set up under the Ministry of Public Security.
By the end of 2005, 36 Chinese cities, including four municipalities and capitals of five autonomous regions, had seen SWAT teams dealing with terrorist attacks and other emergencies.