Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

China Accuses 6 of Links to Uighur Militant Group

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

China Accuses 6 of Links to Uighur Militant Group

Article excerpt

Beijing has issued a list of six people suspected of being members of a terrorist group that China says has used other Asian nations as staging grounds for attacks.

Chinese security officials have issued a list of six people suspected of being members of a militant group that they say is using Asian countries as staging grounds for terrorist attacks in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang.

A representative of the group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, has taken responsibility for a series of stabbing attacks and explosions that killed at least 18 people last July in Xinjiang, home to ethnic Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people who make up about 40 percent of the region's population.

Xinjiang has been the scene in recent years of several high- profile attacks, apparently by Islamic separatists protesting heavy- handed treatment of Uighurs by China's Han majority. Uighurs say they face job discrimination and police repression, and they complain of restrictions on their religious practices.

In a posting on its Web site late Thursday, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security displayed names and photographs of the six suspects, five of whom it called key members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and gave accounts of their alleged crimes. Their known assets have been frozen, the statement said.

The ministry said that all six had engaged in terrorist activities in Central, West and Southeast Asia, as well as "a certain South Asian country," believed to be Pakistan.

The East Turkestan Islamic Movement's presence in Pakistan is concentrated in North Waziristan, the most turbulent corner of the tribal belt, said Muhammad Amir Rana, director the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, an Islamabad-based group that follows militant networks.

Its influence among jihadi fighters is so strong that Abdul Shakoor Turkestani, the movement's leader in the tribal belt, emerged as rumored successor to Osama bin Laden after his death last May, Mr. …

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