Asia-Pacific

Wednesday 20 August 2014

13 terrorism executions took place yesterday in China

Published 16/06/2014 | 16:46

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Police officers in front of Beijing's Tiananmen Gate after a car ploughed through tourists and crashed in a fireball, killing two bystanders and the three attackers (AP)
Police officers in front of Beijing's Tiananmen Gate after a car ploughed through tourists and crashed in a fireball, killing two bystanders and the three attackers (AP)

China executed 13 people yesterday over terrorism and violent crimes in the far western region of Xinjiang, state media said.

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The news emerged as the government wages a harsh crackdown after a series of deadly attacks blamed on Muslim separatists.

The executions took place on the same day that a Xinjiang court sentenced three other people to death for planning a deadly car ramming at Beijing's Tiananmen Gate last year that left five people dead.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the 13 executed people were convicted of crimes such as organising, leading and participating in terrorism groups, arson, murder, burglary and illegal manufacturing, storage and transporting of explosives.

The government says it faces grave terrorist threats from people seeking independence for Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, and has vowed severe punishments.

Among those executed, three men organised an assault in which 24 people died last June in the town of Lukqun, Xinhua said.

It said the attack targeted the local police station, a SWAT team, a government office building and the living quarters of officials and their families, a housing construction site, a business administration office, as well as a hair salon and a hotel.

Xinhua earlier reported that police had killed 10 attackers and that the three men were sentenced to death last September in a one-day trial.

The agency said a fourth person who was executed had detonated an explosive device at an illegal preaching site in June 2012, killing a child. It did not provide any details of the remaining nine people.

Simmering ethnic tensions in Xinjiang have escalated in the past year as assailants have begun to strike outside the region and at civilians, a departure from their previous targets of government offices, police stations or other symbols of rule by the ethnic Han Chinese majority.

Beijing says unrest among Uighurs is caused by extremist groups with ties to Islamic terror groups abroad, but has provided little direct evidence.

Uighur activists say public resentment against Beijing is fuelled by an influx of Han settlers in the region, economic disenfranchisement and onerous restrictions on Uighur religious and cultural practices.

A court in the Xinjiang regional capital of Urumqi sentenced three other people to death today for planning the deadly car ramming, the first attack to strike Beijing in recent years.

The three were accused of providing funds to carry out the October 28 attack, in which a car ploughed through tourists and ended up in a fiery crash in the heart of Beijing.

It killed a Chinese visitor and a tourist from the Philippines, along with the vehicle's driver, his wife and mother-in-law, according to Chinese authorities.

Five other people were given prison sentences, with four receiving terms of five to 20 years and one getting a life sentence, Xinhua said.

They had travelled to Beijing on October 7 last year to deliver money to buy a jeep, fuel, knives and other materials related to the attack, Xinhua said.

The eight were arrested within days of the incident.

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