Beijing: Over 800 Uygur Muslims from China's volatile Xinjiang province have been stopped from illegally crossing through Vietnam to get jihadi training abroad in the last one year, a media report here said.
"Uygurs were leaving China due to government oppression, not because they wanted to join terrorists abroad," said Dilxat Rexit, spokesman for the World Uygur Congress.
More than 800 people have been stopped trying to illegally cross from China into Vietnam in just one year, with the majority attempting to get to jihad training camps, Hong Kong based South China Morning Post reported.
Two Uygur stowaways from Xinjiang region were shot and killed yesterday by police in the country's southern Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, near the Vietnam border.
Police said most of the cases were spurred on by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) an al Qaeda backed organisation fighting the independence of Xinjiang which was restive for the past few years over unrest between Uygurs and Hans.
Most of those caught trying to sneak out of the country had watched underground terror videos or had even engaged in "terrorist" activities, killing people before leaving the country, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Officials reports recently said the Uygurs headed to Syria, Iraq and Pakistan for training.
"The security apparatus has been on high alert since the attacks on Tiananmen Square and in Kunming last year," said Li Wei, director of the anti-terrorism research centre at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
"Chinese citizens are being lured by extremists just like those from the West," he was quoted as saying by the Post.