Militants, in Video, Claim Attacks in Xinjiang Cities

Posted September 8th, 2011 at 5:40 am (UTC-5)
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A militant Muslim group has issued a video claiming responsibility for recent attacks that left more than 30 people dead in China's western Xinjiang region.

The video, made available by the SITE Intelligence Group, includes footage of Turkestan Islamic Party leader Abdul Shakoor Damla and a party member who Chinese police say was killed in one of the attacks. The video says the attacks were staged as revenge against Chinese government policies.

China accused militant Islamists trained in Pakistan of plotting the attacks in mid- and late July. However ethnic Uighur exile groups claimed the violence was the result of Chinese repression of the region's mainly Muslim native population.

The 10-minute video contains a brief biography of Damla and scenes from a TIP training camp, but offers no clues as to where it was made.

During a visit to China last month, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said it was possible that Uighur extremists have camps in Pakistan but that Islamabad is ready to work with China against them.

Tensions have been high in Xinjiang since ethnic riots two years ago that left about 200 people dead. The mainly Muslim Uighurs complain they are economically and culturally disadvantaged compared to the region's growing Han Chinese population.

The violence began with a July 18 raid on a police station in the city of Hotan. Chinese authorities said police killed 14 participants in the riot in which the station was burned and hostages were seized. A Uighur exile group disputed that, quoting witnesses who said police had fired into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators.

The violence continued July 30 in the Silk Road city of Kashgar. Authorities said two men hijacked a truck, killed its driver and then rammed the truck into a crowd. The said the men then jumped out, hacking at passers-by randomly and killing eight people.

A day later, a group of men overran a restaurant in Kashgar, killing the owner and a waiter before running into the street where they killed four more people. Police say they killed five of the men and captured others. Two escaped and were killed a day later in a cornfield.

The new video shows a man it identifies as Memtieli Tiliwaldi training at a TIP camp. Chinese authorities have identified Tiliwaldi as one of the men killed in the cornfield.