Grenade Attack Kills 16 in China Ahead of Games (Updated)

From Reuters, via ecodiario.es:

A police station in China’s restive Xinjiang region was attacked on Monday morning, four days before the Beijing Olympics begin, killing 16 officers and wounding 12, state media reported.

“Rioters drove two vehicles to break into the border patrolarmed police division” near Kashgar and threw two grenades,Xinhua reported.

The brief report did not describe the attackers. But theXinjiang region in the far northwest has been at the heart of China’s security fears leading up the Olympics, which begin infour days.

This news on the web, via Google News.

Update: Hu Jintao is not drawing attention to the attack, according to this report from the Vancouver Sun:

With only four days to the opening of the 2008 Summer Games and Beijing wrapped in a heavy cocoon of security, Chinese President Hu Jintao gave no hint of concern that a deadly terrorist attack in the restive Xianjiang province would affect the Olympics.

Instead, as officers in the remote city of Kashgar continued to probe the grenade attack that killed 16 police officers, Hu welcomed International Olympic Committee members to the opening of the annual IOC session with a lavish ceremony at the National Centre for the Performing Arts.

The Washington Post has a couple more details about the attack:

Witnesses said the two explosions boomed out about 8 a.m. in the heart of Kashgar, an oasis town on the route of the ancient Silk Road more than 2,000 miles west of Beijing and near the Chinese borders with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

[…] Chinese authorities said they had arrested the assailants but did not specify whether they were Uighurs or explain their motives.

Also, from the New York Times, more details provided by Xinhua but which have not been independently verified:

Officials suggested the attackers were associated with a murky separatist movement seeking independence for China’s Uighur minority, a Turkic-speaking Muslim people who dominate the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Details were reported by Xinhua, the official news agency, and could not be independently verified Monday.

According to those accounts, two men driving a dump truck rammed their vehicle into the jogging soldiers, killing or wounding 10. The attackers jumped out of the truck, stabbing the soldiers with knives, and then lobbed homemade bombs at the barracks, although they exploded outside the compound, Xinhua said. The police arrested the attackers, whom they described as Uighurs, 28 and 33 years old, but did not release their names. Xinhua said the arm of one man was badly injured when an explosive device detonated in his hand. The police later discovered another 10 such devices and what it described as a “home-made gun” in the dump truck.

Images reportedly taken from local Kashgar television and briefly posted on the Internet showed bodies shrouded in white sheets or on stretchers. The attack, however, received no mention on the evening news in Beijing.

Meanwhile, Sky News, who has a correspondent in the region, reports on the heavy security presence in Xinjiang:

Driving west down the Old Silk Road from ancient Kashgar, we discovered police and army road blocks everywhere. Whole towns were in total lock-down.

We were detained by police and escorted 100 miles back to Kashgar when we tried to film in the area.

China says it has broken up more than a dozen terror networks aimed at disrupting the Games. But it has presented no evidence to support its claims.

The following graphic illustrations are from the Hong Kong based Apple Daily, [h/t ESWN blog]:

August 3, 2008 9:55 PM
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