Tue, Aug 09, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Xinjiang top official vows crackdown on terrorists, militants

Reuters, BEIJING

The top official in China’s Xinjiang region has called for a crackdown on terrorists and religious extremists after a series of deadly attacks, the regional government said yesterday.

Zhang Chunxian (張春賢), the Chinese Communist Party chief of Xinjiang, was the latest senior figure to vow no mercy for troublemakers in the far--western region, where officials have blamed Islamic militants for recent outbursts of violence.

Two deadly attacks late last month left at least 14 dead and 42 injured in the city of Kashgar.

“In order to firmly curb the current spate of violent terrorist acts ... [we must] exert the highest pressure on the crackdown against terrorists,” Zhang said in a speech addressed to party members on Friday, according to the regional government’s Web site.

At the start of this month, security forces blanketed central areas of Kashgar, days after violence that highlighted ethnic tensions in the Muslim Uighur area.

In those attacks, ethnic Uighur assailants — a minority in Xinjiang — stormed a restaurant, killed the owner and a waiter before hacking four people to death on a nearby street.

Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, a region that accounts for a sixth of China’s land mass and holds deposits of oil and gas, have long resented the presence of Han Chinese and religious and political controls imposed by Beijing.

Zhang also called for a curb on “illegal religious activities” and to focus on maintaining stability, without elaborating.

Zhang’s comments echo recent remarks made by Chinese Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu (孟建柱), who said China would show no leniency to those who perpetrate terrorist activities.

In July 2009, the regional capital, Urumqi, was rocked by violence between majority Han Chinese and Uighurs that killed about 200 people, many of them Han Chinese.

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