The five suicide bombers who carried out the Thursday attack in Urumqi that claimed 39 lives and injured at least 94 people have been identified, state media said on Saturday as Beijing ordered a year-long anti-terrorism crackdown in the increasingly restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
It emerged on Saturday that among the five occupants of the two SUVs used in the attack in a crowded open air market in Urumqi, four died. The fifth escaped the scene of the crime in the chaotic aftermath of the attack that left a trail of destruction behind.
But he was arrested the same night from an area in the Bayingolin Mongolia Autonomous Prefecture. The suspects were identified as Nurahmat Ablipiz, Memet Memtimin, Raghimjan Memet, Memtimin Mahmat and Ablet Abdukadir. The state media report did not mention their ethnicity but from the names it was evident that five were Muslim Uyghurs, the second largest community in XUAR, and who were once the major ethnic group in the remote region.
No information has been shared with the media about the identities of those killed and injured in the attack. The report said all five were influenced by religious extremism. “They took part in illegal religious activities, watched and listened to terrorist violence video and audio materials, according to the police. They formed a five-member terrorist gang at the end of 2013,” Xinhua, the official news agency reported.
“In order to carry out terrorist activities, they bought materials for producing explosives as well as vehicles. They made explosive devices and chose the target for their attack. At 7:50 am on Thursday, four members of the gang including Memet Memtimin, carried out the attack,” the report said. After issuing strong statements against the incident, the government has now ordered a crackdown in Xinjiang, which has seen a spurt in violence in the recent months. “Xinjiang is a remote region with more than half of its population ethnic minorities who hold Muslim beliefs.
Violence in the name of "jihad" has been increasing since 2009 and represents the biggest threat to the region. Some 190 terrorist attacks were recorded in Xinjiang in 2012, a significant increase from 2011,” according to the regional public security department. “Frequent terrorist violence is the most obvious and real threat to the stability of Xinjiang.
Xinjiang will adopt special measures and use special means to end the violence and uproot the organisation of the terrorists,” state media reported about the campaign.
The campaign will make full use of political and legal forces, army and armed police in Xinjiang. “It will focus on terrorists and religious extremist groups, gun and explosive manufacturing dens and terrorist training camps. Terrorists and extremists will be hunted down and punished,” it added.