Beijing: China is ordering a sweeping security clampdown in the western region of Xinjiang following recent deadly attacks blamed on Muslim ethnic Uighur militants, with Beijing vowing to show "no mercy" to anyone pursuing violence or separatism.
Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu has ordered officials to mobilise all available resources and manpower to create a "high-pressure environment" in which to contain terrorism, official newspapers reported on Friday.
"Those criminals who dare test the law with their persons and carry out violent terrorist acts, we will punish harshly, showing no mercy and never being soft," Meng was quoted as telling participants at an anti-terrorism conference on Thursday in the regional capital of Urumqi.
Meng urged authorities to work to prevent violence in villages and cities though education and intelligence gathering. He vowed prosecutions for anyone threatening lives or property, pushing for separatism or undermining relations between minority Uighurs and majority Han Chinese settlers in the region.
"Stick out your antennae, weave a tight web of prevention and wipe out the hot beds of violent terrorism at their roots," Meng said.
The conference follows a trio of recent attacks blamed on militants among Xinjiang`s native Turkic Muslim Uighur population opposed to heavy-handed Chinese rule. At least three dozen people, including the alleged attackers, were killed in the attacks in the cities of Hotan and Kashgar.
Those came despite a massive security presence that was tightened further following a major anti-Chinese riot in Urumqi two years ago in which at least 197 people were killed, hundreds arrested, and scores left missing.
Beijing blames the violence on militants based overseas, saying some trained in terrorist camps in neighbouring Pakistan.
Uighur activists and security analysts dispute that claim, saying there is no evidence of a foreign hand behind the attacks. They blame the violence on economic marginalisation and restrictions on Uighur culture and the Muslim religion that are breeding frustration and anger among young Uighurs.