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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Chinese separatists blamed for police grenade massacre

August 8, 2008

Richard Lloyd Parry in Kashgar
The Times (UK)
August 5, 2008

The two men who killed 16 policemen in the Kashgar massacre were
today identified as members of an ethic group engaged in a shadowy
insurgency in China's north-western Xinjiang region.

The attackers, aged 28 and 33, were overcome and arrested at the
scene and have been confirmed as Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim
Turkic people, who make up the majority of Xinjiang's 20 million population.

Although the official media did not spell it out there appears to be
little doubt that they were members of the insurgency seeking to
break Xinjiang away from China and establish an independent Islamic
state of "East Turkistan."

The separatist link emerged as the crude audacity of the attack became clear.

Rather than an assault on a police station, as had been initially
reported, the men in fact targeted 70 policemen from the paramilitary
border patrol service as they were jogging along one of the main
streets of Kashgar.

At about 8am, a lorry drove straight into the group, scattering the
unarmed patrolmen before crashing into a power cable mast. The
attackers jumped out and threw a pair of homemade bombs into the
group before attacking the survivors with knives.

Fourteen of the police were killed at the scene, according to the
state news agency Xinhua, and two others died on the way to hospital.
A further 16 were injured.

Although the two killers were taken away alive, it was essentially a
suicide attack -- they gave no sign of having a getaway plan and
there is no doubt that, after a swift trial, they will be executed.

In their language, religion, culture and origins, the Uighurs are
quite distinct from the Han Chinese who dominate China's business and
politics. Separatist organisations have operated since the early
1990s, when increasing numbers of Han immigrants were encouraged to
move to Xinjiang from China, creating tension with the Uighurs.

The last unambiguous attacks by Uighur separatists were in 1997 and
1998 when they carried out a series of attacks on buses, police
stations, military installations, prisons and political leaders --
although no attack killed more than a handful of people. After the
terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the United States supported
Beijing in having one of the groups identified by the Chinese
government, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, listed as a terror
organization by the United Nations.

China says that in this year alone it has arrested 82 people for
terrorist activity, including plots to kidnap Olympic athletes and an
attempt to set off a bomb on a domestic flight. Last month, after
people were killed by series of explosions on buses in southern
China, a video claiming responsibility was posted on the Internet by
a group identifying itself as the Turkistan Islamic Party. But
foreign analysts have expressed doubts as to whether these were
serious terrorist threats, or were exaggerated by the Chinese
authorities to justify the intense security measures imposed on the
country during the Olympics.

Either way the latest attack represents a drastic and unambiguous
escalation of a formerly murky conflict and a blow to the safe image
of China after a year which has already seen violent protests in
Tibet in March and the devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province in May.
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