Beijing: Authorities in China's Muslim-dominated Xinjiang region said on Tuesday that residents will have to provide ID to buy fireworks for Chinese New Year in order to prevent "terrorists" from getting hold of explosives.
"The move is meant... To prevent terrorists from obtaining raw materials to make explosive devices," said Li Jianghui, an official with the region's work safety department quoted by state media.
Far-western Xinjiang has seen a surge in violence over the past year as tensions have mounted between China's ethnic majority Han and the mostly Muslim Uighurs.
Beijing blames the violence on "religious extremists", "separatists" and "terrorists" and has responded by launching a severe crackdown in recent months, with hundreds of arrests as well as campaigns against religious practices such as the wearing of veils.
Yesterday police shot dead six attackers after they "sought to ignite explosive devices", Xinjiang's government-run Tianshan news site reported.
The move announced today is also meant to reduce safety risks caused by illegal firework outlets and poor quality fireworks on the market, said Li.
Only 19 fireworks manufacturers will be allowed to sell products in the violence-torn region and sales will be limited to a few days before the new year celebrations, local media reported.
China's lunar new year, which falls on February 19 this year, is traditionally marked with fireworks, which are meant to scare away evil spirits and bad luck.