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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 soldier shot dead outside camp in Chongqing

March 23, 2009

Chinese officials say they are investigating the attack as possible terrorism
By Barbara Demick,
Los Angeles Times
March 21, 2009

Reporting from Beijing -- A soldier on guard duty
outside an army camp in central China was shot to
death and another soldier wounded in a bold
attack that Chinese authorities say is being
investigated as a possible act of terrorism.

The shooting Thursday night was especially
shocking for Chinese officials because it took
place in downtown Chongqing, a city of 5 million.
After killing the soldier, identified in the
official Chinese press as 18-year-old Han
Junliang, the assailants also stole his submachine gun.

Chongqing residents said Friday that the city was
under heavy security as police searched for the
assailants. Roadblocks were set up around downtown.

"They are searching all over the city. They are
inspecting cars, especially taxis. People are in
a big panic," said Chen Jun, a taxi driver
interviewed by telephone. He said rumors had been
circulating for days before the attack that
suicide bombers had infiltrated the city.

Several newspapers reported that the attackers
were Tibetan, which if true would be highly
unusual. Chinese propaganda frequently depicts
Tibetans as terrorists and authorities here are
often quick to ascribe political motives to
bombings and shootings that human rights
advocates say were ordinary criminal acts.

Private ownership of guns in China is illegal,
but authorities have acknowledged the increasing
problem of heavily armed street gangs.

The last attacks of this type occurred in August
before the start of the Beijing Olympics when
assailants in far western China rammed a truck
and threw grenades into a group of policemen
jogging outside their station. That attack was
blamed on ethnic Uighur separatists and took
place in Xin- jiang province, where such violence is more common.

China has been on high alert in recent weeks
because of a series of sensitive anniversaries.
This month saw the 50th anniversary of the flight
of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, into
exile -- as well as the one-year anniversary of
violent riots by Tibetans in various parts of China.

This year is also the 60th anniversary of the
founding of Communist China and the 20th
anniversary of the crackdown on student protests at Tiananmen Square.

The official newspaper of the People's Armed
Police reported Wednesday that a suitcase packed
with explosives had been found at the railroad
station in Lhasa, the Tibetan provincial capital.
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