China on Monday executed 13 persons indicted on terrorism charges in the restive Xinjiang region, state media reported, adding that they were charged with killing police officers and civilians, arson and making explosives.
Not all of those executed were identified by the authorities but they were believed to be from the Muslim Uyghur community, one of the largest minorities in the country and the second largest community in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in China’s far west.
The region has been rocked by violence in the recent months and members from the Uyghur community have also been blamed for deadly knife attacks carried out in other parts of China.
Defendants stand at a court in the Xinjiang regional capital of Urumqi, China. The court sentenced three people to death on Monday for planning a deadly car ramming at Beijing's iconic Tiananmen Gate last year that was blamed on Muslim separatists. (AP Photo)
In March, 29 people were killed and more than 140 injured when men armed with long knives stormed a train station in a night attack in Kunming in southern China. And, in May, an attack on a train station in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, left three dead, including the attackers, and an attack on an Urumqi market in May killed at least 39.
The government had subsequently launched a year-long crackdown on terrorism, calling Xinjiang the “major battleground” against terror attacks.
In late May, 55 persons suspected of terrorism were sentenced in a controversial mass trial held inside a sports stadium packed with people in Xinjiang.
Photographs showed the suspects crouching with their heads forced down by armed soldiers behind them.
“The 13 planned attacks and killed police officers, government officials and civilians. They took innocent lives, caused huge property losses, and seriously endangered public security,” local Xinjiang courts were quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying.
“In one case, three defendants -- Ehmetniyaz Sidiq, Abdulla Srepli and Gulam Eli-- were convicted of organising and leading terrorist attacks on a police station, hotel, government office building and other venues, killing 24 police officers and civilians and injuring 23 others at Lukqun Township in Shanshan County of Turpan Prefecture on June 26 last year,” the report said.
“The execution of criminals involved in terrorist attacks and violent crimes answers the calls of all ethnic groups, deters criminal activities, and demonstrates the resolve of the Communist Party of China and the government in cracking down on terrorism,” a spokesperson of the Xinjiang regional higher people's court said.
Meanwhile, three were sentenced to death and five others were jailed on Monday by a Xinjiang court over a terror attack near Beijing's Tiananmen Square in October 2013. Jail terms varied between five and 20 years.