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Pak-trained ultras behind Xinjiang violence: China

Last updated on: August 01, 2011 17:41 IST

For the first time, China on Monday blamed Uygur 'militants' trained in Pakistan for the deadly violence in its restive Xinjiang province which left at least 20 people dead in the last two days.

"The initial probe found that the group's leaders had learned how to make explosives and firearms in overseas camps of the terrorist group ETIM in Pakistan before entering Xinjiang to organise terrorist activities," an official statement said.

"The suspects harboured thoughts of religious extremism. The outbreak of violence was absolutely no random occurrence," it said. The statement came amid reports of a secret visit of ISI Chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha to China.

Kashghar, a trade city located close to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, witnessed the worst violence directed against the Chinese mainland Hans during the last two days. While nine people were killed in an attack on Saturday, another 11, including five suspected militants, were killed in violence on Sunday night.

"They (suspects) wanted to disturb social stability, incite ethnic hatred, and create conflicts between ethnic groups in order to split Xinjiang from the motherland," the statement of local Kashghar city government which was carried by Chinese official Xinhua news agency said.

After the terse statement from Beijing, Islamabad said it would extend "full cooperation" to China in countering the rebels of the ETIM.

"Pakistan will continue to extend its full cooperation and support to the government of the People's Republic of China against the ETIM," Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said in a brief statement in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, Pasha was scheduled to have left for Beijing on Sunday to open a "broad-based strategic dialogue", Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune reported.

Monday's stern statement, it appears, meant to convey a strong message to Islamabad that China's patience too is running out despite close ties between the two countries.

While, it was no secret that China has been pressing Pakistan to crackdown on ETIM militants for a long time, but perhaps this is the first time that it chose to openly point

Finger at it, when Islamabad is reeling under pressure being exhorted by the US to carry out operations against Al Qaeda and Taliban.

The Xinjiang region remained a hot bed for extremism after massive riots by Muslim Uyghurs in the provincial capital Urmuqi in 2009 against the Chinese mainland Hans who settled down in the region in large numbers over the years.

China had launched a major crackdown against Uyghur Muslim separatists besides launching a host of administrative and economic changes to meet some of the concerns of the locals.

But the attacks resumed last month as on July 18, 14 "rioters" were killed when they reportedly attacked a police station and killed four people in the province's Hotan city.

In Xinjiang, Uygurs constitute 41.5 per cent of its population, while Hans are about 40 per cent.

The province borders eight countries, many of which including PoK and Afghanistan have been plagued by terrorism and targeted by the "East Turkistan" separatist forces.

Pan Zhiping, a researcher with the Central Asia Studies Institute under the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, called the ETIM "the most violent and dangerous" among the "East Turkestan" separatist forces. ETIM traditionally trains its members for suicide bombings and car bombings before sending them to Xinjiang.

But these days their movement is relying more on the Internet to penetrate the border to spread bomb-making techniques, Pan and other long-time Xinjiang observers said.

The UN and the Chinese government have labelled the ETIM an international terrorist organisation.

Zhang Chunxian, secretary of Xinjiang regional committee of the Communist Party of China, ordered a crackdown on terrorist attacks, religious extremist forces, and illegal

religious activities at an emergency meeting held in the regional capital Urumqi on Sunday.

Zhang said the attacks would greatly damage the region's stability. "People in Xinjiang should stay vigilant and recognise that terrorist attackers are the 'common enemies of all ethnic groups,'" the official said.

The Kashgar municipal government called on residents of the Silk Road city to steadfastly fight all sorts of separatist activities, place firm trust in the government, and refrain from being incited to participate in rallies or other "mass incidents".

The police have offered 100,000 yuan (USD15,400) for information which could lead to their arrests.

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