China: Suspected Terrorist Attack Kills 16 Police in Xinjiang
By Daniel Schearf
04 August 2008
China's state media says suspected terrorists have attacked border police in northwest China, killing at least 16 officers, just days before the opening of the Beijing Olympics. Chinese officials have said Islamist terrorists in Xinjiang are the biggest security threat to the Summer Games. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.
China's official Xinhua News Agency says the attack came early Monday morning in Kashgar, a town in China's far northwest province of Xinjiang.
Xinhua reports two attackers drove a dump truck into a group of border police as they were jogging during morning exercises. The assailants reportedly threw home-made explosives and hacked at police with knives before being arrested.
Xinhua says 14 police died at the scene and two others died on the way to the hospital. Sixteen more were wounded in the attack, which it described as a "raid" by suspected terrorists.
The report linked the attack to an alleged plot by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, an al-Qaida-linked terrorist group dedicated to gaining independence for Xinjiang.
Xinhua quoted police in Xinjiang as saying the group planned to launch attacks in the days before the opening of the Beijing Olympics.
Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Games, says he has no information on the attack and will consult with Xinjiang police. As for Olympic security, he says the Chinese government, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, and the Beijing government, place a lot of importance on it.
Chinese authorities say they have broken up numerous terrorist cells in Xinjiang and arrested over 80 suspects so far this year. China's Public Security Bureau said they were plotting to attack major cities during the Olympics and to abduct foreign athletes and journalists.
Police in Shanghai say they stopped an "international terrorist group" in July that was allegedly plotting to attack an Olympic venue, but gave no details.
Chinese police say they foiled an attempt in March by "Eastern Turkistan" separatists to hijack a Southern Airlines flight.
An extremist group calling itself the "Turkistan Islamic Party" has claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks in China. Beijing, however, says there was no evidence of terrorist involvement in those incidents.
Human rights groups say Beijing is feeding extremism with its tight controls on religion and second-class treatment of religious and ethnic minorities.
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