URUMQI: Police in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regions have busted 23 terror and religious extremism groups and caught over 200 suspects in May, according to the regional public security department on Sunday.
The groups were busted by police in south Xinjiang’s Hotan, Kashgar and Aksu prefectures, where the majority of the population are Muslim Uygurs, according to the department. More than 200 explosive devices were also seized in the police raids.
Many of the suspects were in their 20s and 30s, who watched terror video and audio through the Internet and electric storages and learned how to make explosives. They exchanged their experiences of making explosives and propagating Jihad through chatting tools, text messages and illegal preaching sites, according to the department. In 2013, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), listed by the United Nations Security Council as a terrorist group, produced 107 terror video and audio episodes, some of which were spread to China, according to Nuriman Rozi, a senior police officer with the regional public security department. Many of the terror suspects seized in recent years were instigated by those terror video and audio products to carry out terrorist activities, he said.
Xinjiang started a one-year campaign against terrorist violence on Friday. The campaign will last until June 2015 with Xinjiang as the major battleground. The region saw its bloodiest day in five years on Thursday when 39 innocent people were killed in a terrorist attack. The campaign will focus on terrorists and religious extremist groups, gun and explosive manufacturing dens and terrorist training camps. Legal, procuratorate and public security authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region issued a joint statement on Saturday, calling for law-breakers who are involved in terrorist activities to surrender to get lenient punishments.
The statement forbids people to organize, lead or join any terrorist groups. It bans people from implementing or instigating terrorist violence. It also prohibits people from directly or indirectly funding, supporting or harbouring terrorist activities, terrorist organizations and terrorists. The statement also bans people from manufacturing, trading, transporting, publicizing, copying and holding propaganda materials or electric storages with terrorist violence and religious extremism contents. Manufacturing, trading, transporting, storing and holding guns, ammunitions, flammable and combustible materials as well as knives under strict control are also prohibited.
Meanwhile, China on Sunday vowed a year-long campaign against terrorism, days after attackers in the western region of Xinjiang killed 39 people in a suicide raid. “With Xinjiang as the centre, and with cooperation from other provinces, we will start a year-long specialised hard-strike campaign against violent terrorism,” the ministry of public security said on its website. The statement reflects the government’s concerns about terror after a series of deadly attacks in recent months targeting civilians and linked to Xinjiang, home of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.
It indicates a nationwide expansion of a year-long crackdown in Xinjiang, which authorities announced Saturday. Five suspects carried out the attack on Thursday in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi which “killed 39 innocent people” and injured more than 90 others, the state-run Xinhua news agency said. One suspect has been arrested, Xinhua said, while four others died when they crashed cars into a marketplace and threw explosives. The statement said the campaign would last until June 2015 and is aimed at “preventing the spread of religious extremism” from Xinjiang to the country’s interior.
Police were instructed to “collect clues related to violent terror” under the direction of an anti-terrorism “leading small group”, which is likely to include high-level officials from the ruling Communist party. In a separate report Sunday, the state-run Legal Daily said police in the Xinjiang cities of Aksu, Hotan and Kashgar had “busted” 23 terror groups this month. They arrested more than 200 suspects and confiscated 200 explosive devices, it added. An unidentified number of suspects were detained in those areas this weekend for “watching terrorist videos and spreading religious extremism”, it said.
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