Explosion in China's restive Xinjiang kills seven
by Marianne Barriaux Marianne Barriaux – Thu Aug 19,
8:07 am ET
(AFP) – Seven people were killed Thursday when a man
drove a vehicle loaded with explosives into a crowd and
it blew up in China's Xinjiang region, the scene of
deadly ethnic unrest last year, an official said.
Police detained the injured suspect -- a member of
Xinjiang's Uighur minority -- at the site of the blast
in the outskirts of Aksu, a city near the border with
Kyrgyzstan, regional government spokeswoman Hou Hanmin
"The suspect is a Uighur. Most of the victims are
Uighurs too. The suspect was driving a three-wheeled
vehicle carrying explosives into a crowd of people at a
crossroads in the suburbs of Aksu," she said.
"Accident can be ruled out (as a cause)," she added, but
said it was too early to say whether the blast, which
also injured 14 people, was an act of terrorism.
Hou said local security volunteers were among the dead
According to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for
Human Rights and Democracy, which interviewed residents
in Aksu, martial law has been declared in the city and a
large number of armed police deployed.
The far-western Xinjiang region, where the mainly Muslim
Uighur minority has long seethed under Chinese rule, has
experienced several violent bouts of unrest in recent
On July 5 last year the regional capital Urumqi was torn
apart when Uighurs vented decades of resentment on
members of China's dominant Han group. Han mobs took to
the streets in the following days, seeking revenge.
Nearly 200 people were killed and 1,700 injured in all,
the government says, in the worst ethnic violence in
China in decades.
China has blamed the unrest on "separatists" but
provided no evidence of any organised terrorism. More
than 25 people have either been executed or received the
death penalty for their involvement in the violence,
state media say.
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the overseas World Uyghur
Congress, accused the Chinese government of "systematic
oppression" of Uighurs since the unrest.
"After July 5, China has carried out a policy of
systematic oppression, causing the situation to continue
to be volatile," he told AFP.
Several violent attacks also took place in different
cities in Xinjiang in 2008 before and during the Beijing
Summer Olympics, leaving dozens dead.
Xinjiang -- a vast, arid but resource-rich region that
borders Central Asia -- has more than eight million
Uighurs, and many are unhappy with what they say has
been decades of repressive rule by Beijing and unwanted
While standards of living have improved, Uighurs
complain that most of the gains go to the Han.
In June this year, police said they had busted a ring
behind a string of attacks in the region, arresting at
least 10 people.
They said the group was responsible for one particularly
gruesome incident in Kashgar, an ancient city in
Xinjiang, in which attackers assaulted police with
explosives and machetes in August 2008.
The ring included members of militant groups seeking
independence for Xinjiang such as the East Turkestan
Islamic Movement (ETIM), police said.
The United States and the United Nations have listed
ETIM as a "terrorist" organisation. Both Washington and
Beijing say ETIM militants have received training and
funding from Al-Qaeda, although some analysts dispute