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Asia-Pacific
'Terror cells' found in west China
State media says police detain seven groups in westernmost Xinjiang province.
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2009 07:10 GMT
State media says the "cells" were uncovered in the town of Kashgar close to the Afghan border [AFP]

Chinese police have uncovered seven "terrorist cells" operating in the country's westernmost region of Xinjiang, an area that has seen simmering resentment against Chinese rule, state media has said.

According to the China Daily newspaper, the "cells" were based in the Kashgar, close to the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The report said all members of the groups had been arrested, but gave no further details.

It said the cells were uncovered by police in the first four months of the year, although the newspaper did not say why it was only now being reported.

Chinese officials regularly say they have uncovered terrorist groups or foiled plots in Xinjiang, but few details are usually given.

Human rights groups have accused Chinese authorities of using allegations of terrorism to suppress peaceful pro-independence sentiment among Xinjiang's indigenous ethnic Uighurs.

The Uighurs, Turkic-speaking Muslims, are distinct from China's ethnic majority Han who increasingly dominate economic life in Xinjiang.

Kashgar, an ancient stopover on the Silk Route linking Europe and Asia, is a traditional centre for Uighur culture.

'Remote control'

 

The China Daily quoted Zhang Jian, the top Communist Party official in Kashgar, as saying there were signs that the cells had foreign links and were given orders by "remote control" via the internet.

"We know that the extremists will keep attempting to separate Xinjiang from China, and we know they will never get what they want," the report quoted Zhang as saying.

He added however that the government believed the number of people joining such cells was declining.

During last year's Olympic games in Beijing there were at least three attacks against police and paramilitary troops in or near Kashgar, which Chinese authorities attributed to Uighur separatists.

In April, two Uighur men were executed in Kashgar for what Chinese authorities said was a "terrorist" attack in the city last August that left 17 policemen dead.

At the time police said the attack had been aimed at sabotaging the Olympics.

Source:
Agencies
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