China blames deadly Xinjiang attack on separatists

Map of China

China says Muslim separatists trained in Pakistan were behind an attack which killed six civilians in the western region of Xinjiang on Sunday.

In an online statement, the local government said "armed terrorists" stormed a restaurant, killing two, then fatally stabbed four people outside.

Police responding to the attack shot dead five suspects.

The attack was part of a weekend of violence which left up to 18 people dead.

Kashgar is in west of Xinjiang region, which has a Muslim Uighur population and has seen regular outbreaks of ethnic tension, mainly triggered by the influx of Han Chinese.

In a statement the Pakistani foreign office has said that all "incidents of terrorism are deplorable" and that it is fully confident that the Chinese government will succeed in frustrating the "evil designs of... extremists and separatists, who constitute an evil force".

The statement said that Pakistan "will continue to extend its full co-operation and support to the Government of the People's Republic of China against the the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

Firearms and explosives

The Kashgar city government said suspects captured after the restaurant attack had admitted their leaders had joined the ETIM and been trained in making firearms and explosives.

The attackers followed "extremist religious ideology" and advocated "jihad", the statement said.

The government said four suspects had been shot dead at the scene and another died in hospital.

The Kashgar government's online statement did not mention Saturday's attack, which a Xinjiang government-run website said began when assailants hijacked a truck at traffic lights. said two men stabbed the driver to death before driving the vehicle into bystanders.

They then got out of the vehicle and started attacking people at random, the report said.

It said the crowd turned on the assailants - killing one of them - and the second man was captured.

State-run news agency Xinhua said the attack had been preceded by two explosions.

Past violence

The weekend attacks were the second outbreak of violence in Xinjiang in a month.

On 18 July, several police officials and a number of civilians were killed in an attack on a police station in the city of Hotan.

Chinese officials blamed the attack on "terrorists" from the Uighur minority.

Uighur activists said the security forces had provoked clashes by opening fire on a peaceful demonstration.

According to China's most recent census, Xinjiang's largest population group are ethnic Uighurs, Muslims with strong cultural ties to Central Asia.

Our correspondent, Martin Patience, says many Uighurs are unhappy about what they say is the repressive rule of Beijing and are angered by the migration of the majority Han Chinese to the region.

In 2009, riots erupted in Xinjiang in which nearly 200 people died after tensions flared between the Uighurs and the Han.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites