China blames terror camps in Pak as 20 killed in Xinjiang

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Beijing, Aug 1: China today (Aug 1) blamed "extremists" trained in terror camps in Pakistan for orchestrating attacks on civilians in the troubled Xinjiang province, where 20 people, including alleged militants, were killed in violent incidents over two days.

While nine people were killed in a violent attack on Saturday, another 11, including five suspected militants, were killed in another attack last night.

A statement by the Kashgar municipal government said militants trained by the ''East Turkistan Islamic Movement'' in Pakistan were responsible for the recent flare up in violence.

"A group of religious extremists led by culprits trained in overseas terrorist camps were behind the weekend attack on civilians in China's far-western Xinjiang," state run Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.

"Initial probe has shown that the heads of the group had learned skills of making explosives and firearms in overseas camps of the terrorist group East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in Pakistan before entering Xinjiang to organise terrorist activities," it said.

The Xinjiang region witnessed massive riots in 2009, when almost 200 people were killed in its capital Urumqi, following which China launched a major crackdown against Uyghur Muslim separatists.

On July 18 this year, 14 "rioters" were killed when they reportedly attacked a police station and killed four people in the province's Hotan city.

This is perhaps the first time that China has pointed fingers at its close ally Pakistan while referring to ETIM camps there. Xinjiang shares its borders with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and a lot of trade between China and Pakistan is routed through Kashghar as it is located close to the border. 

There was panic in Kashgar city after militants attacked a restaurant last evening before setting it on fire.

The incident left six civilians and five militants dead. The attack came after nine people were killed in another incident on Saturday.

While five ''suspects'' were shot dead by police last night, four others were caught. Fifteen persons, including three policemen, were injured in the attack, Xinhua reported.

The regional publicity department said in a statement that a "group of armed terrorists" broke into a restaurant in the city centre in Kashghar about 4 pm yesterday and killed the restaurant owner and a waiter besides setting fire it.

"They then ran out and hacked civilians indiscriminately, leaving four dead and 12 injured, while police and fire fighters were striving to put out the fire," it said.

Terming it a "premeditated terrorist attack", it said police opened fire and killed four suspects at the scene, while another suspect died later in hospital.

The area was cordoned off and traffic restrictions were imposed on major roads and squares.

Many people were seen fleeing in horror from the downtown area as police cars, fire engines and ambulances whizzed by to tackle the second violent incident within a day.

The attacks resembled the 2009 riots and following up incidents in which Uyghurs had attacked Chinese Han settlers in Urumqi in what police called "a severely violent terrorism case" organised and premeditated by terrorist groups.

A crackdown ensued by security forces on ETIM, which China accuses of fomenting trouble in the region, besides Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer, who lives in US in exile.

on Sunday's attacks were also reportedly directed against Han settlers, and the attacks left the mainland Chinese scared to do business in the province.

PTI

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