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Al-Qaeda calls to avenge Uighurs: report

world Updated: Jul 14, 2009 12:03 IST

Al-Qaeda has vowed to avenge the deaths of Muslims in China's Urumqi city by targeting the country's workforce in northwest Africa, a newspaper said on Tuesday, citing an intelligence report.

The call for reprisals against China has come from Algerian-based al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the South China Morning Post said, summarizing the intelligence report by London-based risk analysis firm Stirling Assynt.

It is the first time Osama bin Laden's network has directly threatened China or its interests, the Stirling report noted, and said that a thirst for vengeance was spreading over the global jihadist community.

"Although AQIM appear to be the first arm of Al-Qaeda to officially state they will target Chinese interests, others are likely to follow," the consultancy's report said, according to the Hong Kong newspaper.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese work in the Middle East and North Africa, including 50,000 in Algeria, the report estimated.

"There is an increasing amount of chatter ... among jihadists who claim they want to see action against China," it said.

"Some of these individuals have been actively seeking information on China's interests in the Muslim world, which they could use for targeting purposes."

The Stirling evaluation was based on information from people who have seen the AQIM instruction, the newspaper said.

Chinese authorities have said that riots in Urumqi by Muslim Uighurs on July 5 left 184 people dead -- most of whom were Han, China's dominant ethnic group -- and more than 1,600 injured.

Uighur leaders accuse Chinese forces of opening fire on peaceful protests, in the latest unrest to rock the Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang.