Xinjiang put on high alert after 20 deaths

Last Updated: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 00:10

Beijing: China has put its volatile Xinjiang
province, bordering Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on high alert
after at least 20 people including seven militants were killed
on Tuesday in the region, where fresh violence has erupted.

Xinjiang province`s official website Tianshan said 20
people including 13 civilians and seven "terrorists" were
killed in yesterday`s attacks.

The attacks, believed to be carried out by the militants
of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, took place yesterday
in Yecheng County in the Kashgar Prefecture, neighbouring POK.

State-run Xinhua news agency quoted witnesses as saying
last night that that the violent mobs chopped the victims.

Official daily Global times said the attacks started at
around 1800 hrs local time last evening.

The attackers were armed with knives, and police shot two
of the assailants dead, while also chasing other attackers in
Xinjiang, home for Uighur Muslims.

The region is experiencing periodic ethnic unrest for the
past several years with clashes between Uighurs and members of
Han community.

Asked about the latest round of violent incidents in
Xinjiang, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei told
reporters here today that China strongly condemned such
"violence and terrorism".

"At present the province is on the path of leapfrog
development. The overall situation in Xinjiang is quite good"
he said.

"We firmly oppose a few handful of terrorists and
separatist activity in sabotaging such unity and development"
he said adding that the provincial administration was put on
high alert to deal with their activities so that development
momentum is not undermined.

The province witnessed worst ethnic clashes in 2009 in
which about hundred people were killed and several hundreds
injured.
China accused ETIM, alleged to be part of al-Qaeda network
of attempting to foment a separatist movement in the province.

The Kashghar local administration last year blamed
Pakistan based terror training camps for some violent
incidents.

In the last few years China has ramped up security in the
province.

Recent official media reports said security officials were
being posted in every village of the sprawling province.

Zhu Feng, a professor at the School of International
Studies of Peking University told Global Times the militants
were trying to cause a public sensation ahead of the upcoming
annual session of the Chinese Parliament beginning here from
Mar 3.

"China has to take strict precautions against this trend
of terrorism and severely crack down on such activities, as
their unmitigated behaviour has brought about great threats to
civilian lives and property," Zhu said.

"Meanwhile, the government should try to gradually
eliminate the social base for such terrorist acts. The
development of Xinjiang`s economy and culture should be
incorporated into the overall development of the country," Zhu
said.

Xinjiang is set to enroll 8,000 policemen to maintain
stability at local levels.

The campaign aims to increase police coverage in
grass-roots areas by stationing at least one police officer in
each village.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 00:10

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