At least 23 groups suspected of spreading terror and religious extremism in the far-western region of Xinjiang have been busted, authorities said Sunday a day after Beijing announced a year-long campaign against terrorism in the province rocked by violence in recent months.
Police have arrested over 200 persons suspected to be involved with these groups, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) public security department said in a statement.
The crackdown was announced soon after an attack in an open air market in the city of Urumqi, the capital of XUAR, on Thursday killed 39 people and injured over 90 more, making it the most serious incident of violence in the region since the 2009 ethnic riots that killed nearly 200.
Authorities also issued an unusual public appeal over the weekend, asking “law breakers” to surrender before the police in the next 30 days to get lenient punishment. The region which is home to millions of Muslim Uyghurs has seen a spurt in violence against authorities – and attacks against civilians in recent months – which the government has said were terror attacks.