At the South China Morning Post, Violet Law reports that police on Sunday shot and killed three people suspected to have been involved in a terror attack two years ago in Pishan, Hotan, a region that has experienced many attacks in recent years. (Coverage from the Global Times notes that the 2015 Pishan attack the deceased were allegedly involved in was never previously reported by authorities.) Law’s report also notes the recent escalation of a long-running anti-terrorism campaign in Xinjiang since Chen Quanguo was installed as Xinjiang Party Chief last year.
The shootings took place in Hotan while security officers were pursing the suspects and encountered violent resistance, the regional government said on its official news website.
[…] The region’s Communist Party chief, Chen Quanguo, staged a massive show of force in an anti-terrorism exercise last week.
He took the post last year and introduced a policy of sacking officials where attacks took place.
[…] Observers have warned his tough approach could inflame further unrest among the region’s Muslim Uygur ethnic minority group. [Source]
Just last week, an investigation was launched into two Xinjiang Party officials were placed under disciplinary investigation following a deadly attack on a government building in their jurisdiction, the first attack to be publicized in Xinjiang in months. The two are believed likely to be sacked, as was the case for two other Pishan officials in September following an attack in the region.
At Reuters, Michael Martina reports further on the official account of Sunday’s shooting, citing state-run Tianshan Net news website:
Security officers in the southern Xinjiang city of Hotan, a one-time Silk Road outpost considered part of the Uighur heartland, encountered violent resistance late on Sunday while pursing three members of a “violent terror gang”, the Xinjiang government said on the Tianshan Net official news site.
“We shot the thugs dead at the scene. There were no casualties on our side,” the government said.
[…] Hundreds of people have been killed in recent years in resource-rich Xinjiang, on the borders of central Asia and Pakistan, in violence between Uighurs and ethnic majority Han Chinese.
The government has blamed the unrest on militants, though rights groups and exiles say anger at Chinese controls on the religion and culture of Uighurs is more to blame for the violence. China denies any repression in Xinjiang. [Source]
Xinjiang has been the frontline of authorities’ thee-year running crackdown on terrorism, launched in response to mounting violence in Xinjiang as well as in other regions of China. Several policies within this campaign have been criticized for targeting members of the predominately Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority, and exacerbating ethnic tensions in the region. Following steady allegations from Chinese officials that the violence in Xinjiang is connected to the global jihad movement, a passport recall was recently enacted across Xinjiang. In August, a Uyghur militant detonated an explosive device at the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, leading a Uyghur ethnic rights group to express concern of increased persecution of Uyghurs living in China. Following the deadly New Year’s Day attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey, a senior Turkish official said that he suspected the gunman was Uyghur, and the state-run Anadolu News Agency reported that several detained suspects are Uyghur. The Istanbul nightclub attacker has since been identified as a Uzbek member of the Islamic State.
On Twitter, Dorraine Lau recently tweeted evidence of a new security measure in Wenshu, Xinjiang, requiring all local residents to register all tools capable of carrying out a violent attack:
— Doriane Lau (@dorianelau) January 10, 2017