China vows to fight against 'East Turkestan terrorists'

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: Mar 19, 2014 20:44 IST

China on Wednesday said it will continue to fight against the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) a shadowy group that has apparently voiced its support for the Kunming stabbings earlier this month that left 34 dead and more than 140 injured.

According to state media reports, the ETIM released an online video expressing support for the March 1 attack at a railway station in the city in China’s southwest where a group of armed and masked attackers slashed at civilians, triggering panic and shocking the country.

The government had linked the attack to separatists from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) where a large part of the population is from the Muslim Uyghur community.

Rights groups and exiled activists have said the ETIM threat projected by China is vastly exaggerated and that the group – even if it exists as a coherent unit – doesn’t have the expertise to carry out terror attacks in China. Most cases of violence in the remote XUAR are a result of disgruntled civilians reacting to Beijing’s repressive policies, they add.

But foreign ministry spokesperson, Hong Lei, made it again clear on Wednesday where the government stands on the issue.

“It has fully exposed the terrorist nature of the ETIM,” Hong said at a daily news briefing.

Terrorism is a common enemy of mankind. Fighting against the ETIM is a key component of the international anti-terrorism war, Hong said.

He called on the international community to fully recognize the terrorist nature and severe damage of the "East Turkistan" forces, as represented by the ETIM, and to support China's anti-terrorism stance.

The state media report said that the ETIM, listed by the United Nations Security Council as a terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the Tiananmen attack in October in which five people were killed and 40 others injured

Meanwhile, official news agency Xinhua reported that an assailant was shot dead after fatally assaulting a policeman in XUAR on Wednesday.

The attacker, armed with weapons, targeted the officer in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi on Monday, the ministry of public security said on its verified account on Sina Weibo.

The policeman was injured in the fight and died later, it said, while the assailant was shot dead by police reinforcements.

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