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Suspects from Xinjiang involved in Tiananmen car crash: China media

world Updated: Oct 29, 2013 13:12 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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The car crash on Monday at Beijing's Tiananmen Square that claimed the killed five persons could have been a deliberate one, state media indicated on Tuesday, naming two persons from the restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) as suspects.

The SUV had ploughed into a group of people in front of the popular tourist destination, Forbidden City, at Monday noon, killing five and injuring at least 38 others.

The three passengers in the car were killed in the blaze that followed the crash; two other tourists were also killed in the incident.

Though it was indicated to be so, it wasn't clear whether the two suspects were among those killed in the car.

Late on Monday night, the report said the Beijing police issued a notice that named two persons from Xinjiang province, in China's far northwest, as possible suspects behind the incident.

"The police notice said that a `major case had taken place on Monday' and named two residents of Pishan county and Shanshan county of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as likely suspects," state-run Global Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The police also dispatched notices to several hotels in Beijing, asking the management to look out for "suspicious guest".

"…the police sent a notice to hotels in Beijing, in which hotel management were asked to look out for `suspicious guests' that had visited hotels since October 1. The police also sought information on `suspicious vehicles'," the report said.

It added that the police also described a light-colored SUV, and four license number plates, all starting with the regional character showing they were from Xinjiang, in the notice.

The Xinjiang province, home to more than 8 million from the minority Muslim Uyghur community, has seen sporadic but intense ethnic violence where members of the community have clashed with the police and local authorities.

Beijing blames the violence on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), claiming that shadowy group is attempting to incite separatism in the province and trying to destabilise regional stability and development.

Uyghur groups based abroad say that government is exaggerating the ETIM threat and blames the violence on its policies that treat the community as second-class citizens.

In the past few years, several Uyghur men have been given death sentence or long jail terms for inciting separatism.

The region saw the worst violence in 2009 when nearly 200 people died after Uyghurs clashed with the majority Han community members.

Many details remain sketchy about Monday's incident which occurred near a pedestrian street between the Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

The government has censored information on the incident, removing photos and updates about it from China's popular social media network, Weibo.

The scene of the crime is next to some of China's most important political institutions like the Great Hall of the People and Zhongnanhai which serves as the headquarters for the Communist Party of China government.