Connect with us

Hua Hin

Biggest attack in years kills 31 in China’s troubled Xinjiang

Published

 on 

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Biggest attack in years kills 31 in China’s troubled Xinjiang
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Explosives hurled from two vehicles which ploughed into an open market in China’s troubled Xinjiang killed 31 people on Thursday, state media reported, the deadliest act of violence in the region in years.

China’s Ministry of Public Security called the attack in the regional capital of Urumqi a “serious violent terrorist incident” and domestic security chief Meng Jianzhu vowed to strengthen a crackdown on the “arrogance of terrorists”.

China has blamed a series of knife and bomb attacks in recent months on separatist militants from Xinjiang, the traditional home of the ethnic Muslim Uighurs.

The cross-country vehicles rammed into shoppers in an open market, Xinhua news agency reported, citing witness reports. Explosives were flung out of the vehicles, and one of the vehicles exploded.

One witness told Reuters he saw the aftermath of the blasts on his way to work. “The air was full of the smell of gunpowder and the sound of sobbing,” he said. “There were simply too many (casualties), old folks who were at the morning market.”

A business owner told Xinhua he had heard a dozen loud explosions at the market near Renmin Park in downtown Urumqi.

Xinjiang has been plagued by violence for years, but rights activists and exile groups say the government’s own heavy handed policies in the region have sowed the seeds of unrest.

Photos posted on social media purportedly of the blast, but not verified by Reuters, showed a column of smoke and chaos at the market, with bloodied people lying on the tree-lined road near small stands selling fruit, vegetables and eggs.

“There were two vehicles that drove like crazy towards the morning market,” another witness who declined to give his name told Reuters by telephone. “The market was total chaos. Hawkers and shoppers started running everywhere… it was definitely a terrorist act. I’m so angry.”

Other photos showed riot police on the scene and bodies lying amid flames. Produce and debris were scattered across the street.

Dilshat Rexit, spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, said in an e-mail to Reuters that while he wasn’t sure who committed the attack, he believed Beijing’s policies in the region should be examined.

“The volatility of the situation and Beijing’s repressive policies in the area have a direct relationship to this,” Rexit said. “I urge Beijing not to use this incident as an excuse to expand repressive policies, and instead to adjust policies to ameliorate a deteriorating situation.”

In a posting on its Chinese-language microblog account, the U.S. Embassy said it offered condolences to victims of the “violent attack”, but stopped short of labelling it terrorism.

The Xinjiang government could not be immediately reached for comment.

CRACKDOWN

President Xi Jinping said police would “step up patrols and security controls over possible terrorist targets and prevent ripple effects”, Xinhua reported. Xi vowed to “severely punish terrorists”.

A working group led by Guo Shengkun, China’s Minister of Public Security, was dispatched to the region to investigate.

The attack was the deadliest in a recent series targeting crowded public places in China. In March, 29 people were stabbed to death at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming.

A bomb and knife attack earlier this month at an Urumqi train station killed one bystander and wounded 79. A car burst into flames at the edge of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in October, killing five people, in what Beijing said was a terrorist attack.

China has said Islamist militants from Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Separatist groups in Xinjiang are seeking to form their own state called East Turkestan.

Xinjiang, resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of central Asia, is home to the Uighur people, a mostly Muslim ethnic group who speak a Turkic language and are culturally distinct from China’s ethnic Han majority.

Violent riots shook the region in 2009, when hundreds of locals took to the streets in Urumqi, burning and smashing vehicles. Dozens were killed in the unrest.

But exiles and rights groups say China’s repressive policies that have targeted religious freedoms and economic opportunities for Uighurs are the culprits when it comes to unrest.

In recent weeks, China has strengthened a crackdown on Uighurs in the region, jailing dozens for spreading extremist propaganda and manufacturing arms, among other charges.

Christopher Johnson, a former China analyst at the CIA, said China’s leadership may come to the realisation that a policy of constantly tightening controls on Xinjiang may not be effective in preventing attacks.

“I’m kind of doubtful that they are going to announce some sort of more liberal policy,” said Johnson, who now works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“But sooner or later I think they are going to have to come to that reality because the evidence is just smacking them in the face.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Video12 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Actress Forex 3D scammer released on bail after 3 months behind bars

Crime12 hours ago

Big Joke seizes Tuhao’s private jet in Hua Hin

Phuket12 hours ago

Phuket officials once again report finding no human trafficking on fishing boats

Sponsored19 hours ago

Go global with Upbit Thailand: Worldwide digital asset market in your hands

Thailand12 hours ago

South Korea increases quota of Thai workers next year

Tourism12 hours ago

Indian pervs arrested after harassing tourist in Mumbai

Vietnam12 hours ago

Province in Vietnam boosting tourism with its rich culture

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand13 hours ago

Teen girl’s ID card request denied as she doesn’t look like her mother

Crime13 hours ago

Body of missing woman found tied to water pump in western Thailand

South Korea13 hours ago

NZ suitcase murders go to court

Thailand13 hours ago

Chinese gangs in Thailand take another hit as “Tony” falls

Pollution14 hours ago

Environmental police arrest 7 over illegal dumping in Bangkok

Crime14 hours ago

Pattaya Police warn city’s taxi riders to behave after sexual assault case

Press Room14 hours ago

Thai-Italian Business Summit highlights the importance of a shared vision

Thailand14 hours ago

Percentage of HIV infections rising among young Thais

Tourism14 hours ago

TAT launches luxury travel package to Thailand for rich South Korean tourists

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending