BEIJING: China executed 13 people yesterday for “terrorist attacks” in the far western region of Xinjiang, while another three were sentenced to death for a lethal attack at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
“The 13 criminals had planned violent terrorist attacks and ruthlessly killed police officers, government officials and civilians, which took innocent lives, caused huge property losses and seriously endangered public security,” the official news agency Xinhua said.
Xinjiang is the traditional home of Muslim Uighurs who speak a Turkic language, and China has blamed previous attacks on Islamist separatists it says seek to establish an independent state there called East Turkestan.
Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the government’s own repressive policies in Xinjiang have provoked unrest, something Beijing denies.
The 13 executed men were involved in attacks in different parts of Xinjiang, including one last June that killed 24 policemen and local residents, Xinhua said. In the Tiananmen case, five people were killed and 40 hurt when a car ploughed into a crowd in the square and burst into flames. Those killed included three people in the car.
Another man was sentenced to life and four others received jail terms ranging from five to 20 years, Xinhua said. Footage of the trial on state broadcaster China Central Television showed suspects in orange jumpsuits at a Xinjiang courthouse, with Uighur women in tears as they watched the proceedings.
The men had formed a “terrorist group” in 2011, state broadcaster CCTV reported. Between December 2012 and the following September, they acquired firearms and explosives and last October travelled to Beijing and raised money to buy the car that would be driven to Tiananmen Square, CCTV said.Rreuters