BEIJING : China executed 13 people Monday for ‘terrorist attacks’ in the violence-wracked northwestern region of Xinjiang, state media said, as death sentences were issued over a suicide car crash at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
The announcement by the official Xinhua news agency said the 13 were involved in seven different cases connected to Xinjiang, where Beijing says separatist militants are behind a string of attacks that have rocked China in recent months. Xinhua provided names of four of the executed without identifying them by their ethnicity, though some of the names appeared to be Uighur, a Turkic-speaking mainly Muslim group with cultural and linguistic links to Central Asia. The report identified two of the cases as taking place last year and resulting in more than two dozen deaths, including those of 24 police officers and ordinary citizens in Xinjiang’s Turpan Prefecture in June. ‘The execution of criminals involved in terrorist attacks and violent crimes answers the calls of all ethnic groups, deters criminal activities, and demonstrates the resolve of the Communist Party of China and the government in cracking down on terrorism,’ Xinhua quoted a spokesman for the Xinjiang regional higher people’s court as saying.
The announcement came hours after state media said three people had been sentenced to die over the Tiananmen crash last October and underscores the tough approach authorities are taking to increasingly brazen and violent incidents. The Tiananmen attack was one of several that have rocked China since last year, and which Beijing has blamed on Xinjiang separatists.
The far-western region is the resource-rich homeland of the Uighurs and other groups, and periodically sees ethnic tensions and discontent with the government burst into violence. In March a horrific knife assault at a railway station in the southern city of Kunming left 29 dead and 143 wounded. Last month 39 people were killed, along with four attackers, and more than 90 wounded when assailants threw explosives and ploughed two off-road vehicles through a crowd at an Urumqi market.