Monday, March 5, 2012

China's Islamic Problems

Reuters is reporting a story that I found interesting. It seems that China is experiencing some more of it's own "home grown" terrorist problems. Attackers wielding knives killed 13 people in China's Xinjiang region before police shot seven of them dead in the latest violence to strike the ethnically divided northwestern area.

The killings on Tuesday night occurred on a busy pedestrian street in Yecheng County near Kashgar, a city in the south of Xinjiang that has been beset by tension between the mainly Muslim Uighur people and Han Chinese.

"Nine violent terrorists suddenly surged into the crowd and stabbed to death innocent people with their knives, causing 13 innocent people to die and injuring many," said a statement an official news report. "Police rushed to the scene, handled the situation with resolution and shot dead seven violent terrorists, capturing two," it added.

The regional government did not identify any of the attackers or give their ethnicity. Nor did it identify the ethnicity of their victims. Yecheng, also known by its Uighur name of Kargilik, is close to the disputed region of Kashmir, which is partly controlled by India and partly by Pakistan.

China has blamed earlier incidents of violence on religious hardliners who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan. Some Chinese officials have also blamed attacks on Muslim militants trained in Pakistan. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the Yecheng incident should not be overblown.

Uighurs account for just over 40 percent of the region's 21 million people. But they are the majority in Kashgar and other parts of the region's south and many chafe at government controls on their culture and religion. The Global Times, a tabloid published by Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily, cited experts as saying that Yecheng was in the front line of China's campaign against militancy because of its location.

In July 2009, Uighurs rioted against Han Chinese residents in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. At least 197 people were killed, most of them Han, according to official estimates. In January, authorities said that seven people killed by police in Xinjiang had been trying to leave the country to wage "holy war".

In September 2010, courts in Xinjiang sentenced four people to death for violence in two cities in which 32 people were killed.

The government sees Xinjiang as a bulwark facing the predominantly Muslim countries of central Asia. The region, with a sixth of the country's land mass, is also rich in natural resources, including oil, coal and gas. So the chances of any group forming an independant counrty any time soon is remote.

Live Long and Prosper....

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