A DEADLY weekend attack in China’s restive Xinjiang region was masterminded by “terrorists” trained in Pakistan, the local government said today.
Fourteen people were killed in two attacks at the weekend in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, and five alleged attackers were in turn shot dead by police in the wave of violence.
The Kashgar authorities said in a statement on their website that initial investigations found that the perpetrators of one attack learned explosive-making skills in terrorist-run camps in Pakistan.
“The heads of the group had learned skills of making explosives and firearms in overseas camps of the terrorist group East Turkistan Islamic Movement in Pakistan before entering Xinjiang,” the online statement said.
Remote Xinjiang has seen several outbreaks of ethnic violence in recent years as the mainly Muslim Uighur minority bridles under what it sees as government oppression and the unwanted immigration of ethnic Han Chinese.
Last month, more than 20 people were killed in a clash with police in the remote city of Hotan.
Today’s statement appeared to refer only to an on a restaurant in Kashgar that took place yesterday.
That came less than 24 hours after an earlier incident in which a truck that was waiting at a light at the food market in Kashgar, not far from the border with Kyrgyzstan, was reportedly hijacked.
Tianshannet.com, a website run by the regional government, reported that the attackers killed the driver, ploughed the vehicle into passers-by on a nearby pavement, then got out of the truck and stabbed people at random.
Six bystanders were killed before the crowd turned on them and killed one attacker, the report said.
Many Uighurs are unhappy with what they say has been decades of political and religious repression, and the unwanted immigration of China’s dominant Han ethnic group.
While standards of living have improved, Uighurs complain that most of the gains go to the Han.
This tension has triggered sporadic bouts of violence in Xinjiang — a vast, arid but resource-rich region which is home to more than eight million Turkic-speaking Uighurs.
State media quoted an official in Xinjiang calling the Hotan clash in July a “terrorist” attack.
But Uighur activists called it an outburst of anger by ordinary Uighurs and said security forces killed 20 people during the unrest.
In the nation’s worst ethnic violence in decades, Uighurs savagely attacked Han Chinese in the regional capital Urumqi in July 2009 — an incident that led to retaliatory attacks by Han on Uighurs several days later.
The government says around 200 people were killed and 1700 injured in the violence, which cast doubt on the authoritarian Communist Party’s claims of harmony among the country’s dozens of ethnic groups.