China has executed 13 people for “terrorist attacks and violent crimes” in the restive region of Xinjiang, state media reported, on the same day as it sentenced to death three people for an attack on Beijing’s symbolic heart, Tiananmen Square.
The executions related to seven different terror attacks connected to Xinjiang province and Islamist militants, and those killed were militants from the mainly Muslim Uighur ethnic group linked to a series of attacks that in China in recent months.
"In one case, three defendants were convicted of organising and leading terrorists to attack police station, hotel, government office building and other venues, killing 24 police officers and civilians and injuring 23 others at Lukqun Township in Shanshan County of Turpan Prefecture on June 26th last year," the Xinhua news agency reported.
The announcement of the executions came just hours after state media announced that three people had been sentenced to death over a suicide car crash in Tiananmen Square last October.
The men – Husanjan Wuxur, Yusup Umarniyaz and Yusup Ahmat – were guilty of “organising and leading a terrorist group and endangering public security”, Xinhua said. The car hit tourists before catching fire, killing five.
Beijing sees the Uighur separatist movement as part of a plan to destabilise the government, with links to fundamentalist Islamic groups across the borders.
The largest province in China, Xinjiang accounts for 16 per cent of the country’s land area. Xinjiang’s 10 million-plus Turkic-speaking Uighurs are a Turkic Muslim ethnic group that shares close linguistic and cultural links to central Asia, and is quite distinct from China’s majority Han. Many Uighurs feel overwhelmed by the influx of settlers from China’s Han ethnic majority, and they feel they have no way to voice their grievances about how they are officially treated.
There are regular stories about violence in Xinjiang.
Three men armed with knives ran into a gaming hall in Hotan and attacked a group of people playing chess on Sunday afternoon, Xinhua reported. Four people were hurt.
Two cars ploughed through a market in the regional capital, Urumqi, in May, and then tossed explosives into the crowd, killing at least 31 people and injuring more than 90.
In April, a bomb and knife attack at Urumqi’s south railway station killed three and injured 79 others, while a knife attack in Kunming killed 29 and left more than 130 injured.