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.
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Authorities have warned of terrorist plots to disrupt the Olympics and have recently stepped up efforts against extremist organizations. Last month, three people were executed in a town near Kashgar after being convicted of being ETIM members. A day earlier, five Uighurs died after police raided an apartment in Urumq, reports The Washington Post.Skip to next paragraph
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Security officials preparing for the Olympics repeatedly have warned that Uighur extremists, who seek to break away from Chinese rule, pose the greatest security threat to the Games. The officials have cited several organizations that they say maintain links to foreign-based Islamist extremist organizations and are training Uighurs to organize bombings and other violence.
In particular, Chinese authorities have identified the East Turkestan Islamic Movement as a terrorist group that poses the greatest risk. The United States also has determined the group to be a terrorist organization, saying it has links with al-Qaeda. Three people executed July 9 at Yengishahar, near Kashgar, were convicted of being East Turkestan Islamic Movement members.
One day earlier, police in Urumqi, the regional capital, killed five Uighurs in a raid on an apartment in a middle-class gated community. Authorities accused them of preparing a holy war against Han Chinese rule.
The Public Security Bureau announced in April that it had broken up two Uighur terrorist cells plotting to kidnap foreigners and bomb hotels during the Olympics. The bureau said 45 people were arrested and accused them of ties to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.
Last week, however, the vice-governor of Xinjiang said that there were "only a small number of sabotage activities" in the province, reports The Guardian.
The authorities have repeatedly accused Uighur Muslim separatists seeking an independent "East Turkestan" of plotting violent attacks and recently claimed to have arrested 82 people in Xinjiang this year in connection with terrorism.
Human rights campaigners and Uighur exiles argue that the government has exaggerated the threat of violence, and deliberately blurred the distinction between extremism, pro-independence arguments and cultural expression to justify repression in the region.