BEIJING, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Islamic extremists trained in Pakistan were blamed Tuesday for deadly violence in Kashgar in ethnically tense Xinjiang-Uighur region in China’s northwest.
Pakistan is a close ally of China but Beijing has been trying to contain growing violence in the border Xinjiang-Uighur region, where the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs resent being ruled by Han Chinese.
In the Kashgar incident that erupted during the weekend, China Daily said the violence started after a truck hijacking and attacks on civilians.
“According to suspects captured after the attacks, the group’s leaders learned how to make explosives and firearms in camps run by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a terrorist group in Pakistan,” China Daily said quoting the Kashgar government. “The acts of terror were intended to sabotage ethnic unity … instigate hatred and see Xinjiang secede from the country.”
Xinjiang-Uighur is close to Pakistan and several central and west Asian countries.
The Los Angeles Times reported the violence has so far left at least 19 people dead.
Chinese media said the city remained under curfew Monday with schools and many shops closed.
In a similar incident last month in the same region, at least 20 people died in Hotan city. The region also was the scene of rioting in July 2009 in the capital Urumqi, where 197 people died and about 1,700 were injured in the worst such ethnic violence.
“The suspects harbored thoughts of religious extremism. The outbreak of violence was absolutely no random occurrence,” the Kashgar municipality said.
The LA Times it could not le to independently confirm Chinese accounts.
A Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman said all incidents of terrorism are deplorable, adding his government “will continue to extend its full cooperation and support to” China against the ETIM.
Chinese counterterrorism expert Li Wei told China Daily the attacks in Kashgar and Hotan cities were coordinated and warned of more such incidents.
“The attacks inside China must have connections with anti-China forces based overseas,” he said.
Local Communist party secretary Zhang Chunxian ordered a crackdown on terrorists, religious extremists, and illegal religious activities, China Daily said.
Indian sources in Beijing told the Times of India that local authorities would not issue sensitive statements on Pakistan without the approval of Beijing which describes Islamabad as its “all-weather” friend.