Eight sentenced to death for China attacks

Convicts accused of carrying out two deadly attacks in the violence-torn far-western Xinjiang region.

A court in China has sentenced eight people to death for allegedly carrying out two deadly attacks in the violence-torn far-western Xinjiang region, state media said.

Five others were given suspended death sentences, a penalty normally commuted to life in prison, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Monday.

Another four were jailed over the attacks, which killed 39 people at a market and one at a train station this spring. Several attackers also died.

In one incident, assailants armed with knives and explosives reportedly attacked a train station in the regional capital Urumqi in April, killing one person and wounding 79 on the final day of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Two assailants also died.

In May, 39 people were killed, along with four attackers, and more than 90 wounded when assailants threw explosives and ploughed two vehicles through a market in Urumqi, state media said.

Over the past year, at least 200 people have died in a series of clashes and increasingly sophisticated attacks in the region and beyond it.

The sentences are the latest in a series of harsh punishments by Chinese authorities, who are in the midst of a “strike hard” campaign against violence in Xinjiang.

Xinjiang is frequently hit by unrest prompted by fierce tensions between China’s ethnic Han majority and the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs, with authorities regularly blaming Uighur fighters for the violence.

Some Uighurs in the region are hostile to the Communist Party’s leadership.

They said they were victims of discrimination and left out of the benefits of development in Xinjiang, which has seen an influx of Han Chinese moving in from elsewhere in the country.

Xinjiang, a resource-rich region in China’s far west, which abuts Central Asia, is home to about 10 million Uighur Muslims, who mostly follow Sunni Islam.

Experts and human rights activists said that policies regarding religion and culture adopted by China stoke tensions in the region.

Source: AFP

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