Chinese nationals may be fighting in Iraq, says special envoy

Expressing concern over the growth of Islamic militant groups in the Middle East, China`s special envoy to the region on Monday said that radicals from its restive Xinjiang province may be taking part in the recent upsurge in violence in Iraq and Syria.

PTI| Last Updated: Jul 28, 2014, 17:20 PM IST

Beijing: Expressing concern over the growth of Islamic militant groups in the Middle East, China`s special envoy to the region on Monday said that radicals from its restive Xinjiang province may be taking part in the recent upsurge in violence in Iraq and Syria.

Wu Sike, who recently returned from the region, said that?Beijing is worried about the role of extremists in Syria and Iraq, more so as some of the militants may have gone there from China.

The crisis in Syria turned the country into a training ground for militants from many countries, he said.

Their influence is now spreading to Iraq where the Islamic State (IS) forces have captured large swathes of territory to establish a Caliphate (Islamic State).

The militants taking part in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have come from various Islamic countries, Europe, North America and China, he said.

"After being immersed in extremist ideas, when they return home they will pose a severe challenge and security risk to those countries," Wu added, who has 40 years of diplomatic experience in the Middle East.

China in recent times has been saying that a number of Uighur militants having crossed over to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey, were found to be fighting in the Syrian civil war.

In the past, Chinese officials have said a number of nabbed Uighur militants took part in the Syrian conflict.

Xinjiang, home to Uighur Muslims, is in turmoil over the increasing settlements of Han Chinese from other parts of the country.

The violence has now spread to other part of China.

Uighurs are a Turkic speaking Muslims with ethnic fraternity in Turkey, bordering Syria.
Beijing accuses al Qaeda backed East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which had bases in Pakistan`s tribal areas.

Chinese security forces launched an-year-long crackdown against the militants after a spate of bomb attacks in Urumqi, provincial capital of Xinjiang which border Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).
Recent reports said that several ETIM members were killed in air raids carried out by Pakistan military on militant bases.