16 Chinese police killed in suspected Uighur attack
The attack highlights security threats posed by China's extremist groups in the run-up to the Olympics.
Sixteen Chinese border police officers died Monday in what police said was a suspected terrorist attack in western Xinjiang Province. The attack comes four days before the start of the Beijing Olympics and highlights the potential security threats to the Games, which authorities have repeatedly warned could be targeted by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and other extremist groups in China. The ETIM is said to draw its support from disgruntled Uighurs, a Muslim minority, living in Xinjiang. But critics accuse China of inflating the threat posed by ETIM, which advocates a separate Uighur homeland.Skip to next paragraph
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Xinhua reports that two unnamed attackers drove a dump truck into a team of border police during a Monday morning jog near their barracks, killing 14 officers on the spot. Two other officers died on the way to the hospital. The attack occurred in Kashgar, the westernmost city in China.
The two attackers got off the lorry after the vehicle veered to hit a roadside wire pole. They threw home-made explosives to the barracks, causing explosion. They also hacked the policemen with knives.
The police said the two attackers had been arrested, and one got a leg injury in the raid.
Police found debris of five explosives in the division yard.
According to Bloomberg, the Xinhua English-language report quoted above said that the assault was a "terrorist attack," but that wording was changed to "violent crime" in a Chinese-language report that the state news agency issued two hours later.
Details about the attack remain to be confirmed. The Guardian reports that Chinese state television gave a slightly different account of Monday's incident, saying the paramilitary police were doing their morning drills outside a hotel when the attackers struck.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, quotes a hotel receptionist in Kashgar as saying two explosions were heard around 8 a.m., after which police blocked off the road. Chinese authorities did not mention the ethnicity or describe the possible motive of the two arrested suspects.