Pakistan Pledges to Support China in Fighting Xinjiang Militants

Posted August 1st, 2011 at 2:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistan says it will support China in fighting Islamist militants whom Beijing blames for recent deadly violence in its northwestern Xinjiang region.

In a statement Monday, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry pledged cooperation with China in combating the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. Xinjiang authorities accuse the group of training militants who they say attacked a restaurant and nearby pedestrians in Kashgar city on Sunday, killing six people.

Chinese authorities say police killed five of the assailants, detained four others, and were searching for two suspects who fled. Kashgar's local government said an initial investigation showed that some of the attackers were trained in making explosives and firearms at camps in Pakistan before infiltrating back into China.

Xinjiang's Communist Party secretary Zhang Chunxian said Chinese authorities will respond to the violence by cracking down on “religious extremism” and 'illegal religious activities.”

Chinese officials did not release any evidence of East Turkestan Islamic Movement involvement in Sunday's attack. The group seeks independence for Xinjiang, home to millions of Muslim Uighurs who resent decades of what they say is repressive rule by Beijing and unwanted immigration by China's dominant Han ethnic group.

World Uighur Congress spokesman Dilxat Raxit told VOA that Chinese repression has made it impossible to protest peacefully in Xinjiang, and drives some people to resort to violence. He says Beijing has to acknowledge responsibility for that.

In an incident in Kashgar on Saturday, authorities said two assailants hijacked a truck, killed its driver, and then drove it into a crowd of pedestrians before stabbing them and killing seven. Police killed one attacker and apprehended the other.

Tensions have been high in Xinjiang since 2009, when ethnic riots involving Uighurs and Han Chinese killed about 200 people.