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Police foil Urumqi terror attacks


08:04, September 01, 2011

Police have thwarted attempted attacks by suspected Uygur militants in the northwestern Xinjiang autonomous region, the local government said yesterday, as Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari visited for a trade expo and promised to work with China to fight terrorism.

Zardari is in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, nearly a month after Chinese officials blamed an attack in the city on militants trained in Pakistan.

China tightened security in Urumqi ahead of the China-Eurasia Expo, deploying armed SWAT teams, marching baton-wielding riot police through the old part of the city and stepping up checks on flights bound for the region.

Urumqi's top official Zhu Hailun said yesterday that "separatists, religious extremists and terrorists have been plotting to sabotage the expo," which opens today.

He said airport security staff in Urumqi had arrested a man who attempted to take a knife on board an aircraft on August 7. He has been detained on suspicion of planning an attack during the flight, Zhu said.

"There have been many similar cases of attacks being blocked by police," Zhu said. "Hopefully we have intervened in time to nip the violence in the bud."

Authorities have boosted security in the run-up to the expo. Airports in a dozen cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, have tightened security screenings for flights bound for the Xinjiang capital.

Fully armed police are guarding the convention venue in suburban Urumqi while armored vehicles are parked in front of the hotels where dignitaries are staying.

Today's opening will be attended by foreign leaders including Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva, Azerbaijan's Vice Premier Abid Sharifov, and Kazakhstan's Deputy Prime Minister Aset Isekeshev, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

The expo is expected to attract more than 10, 000 foreign participants.

Organizers said the upgrading of what was previously a regional trade fair to an international expo would make Urumqi an important exchange platform for leaders and businesses in China and its western and southern neighbors, such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.

In a meeting with Zhang Chunxian, Xinjiang's top official, on Tuesday, Zardari reassured Chinese officials that Islamabad opposes any kind of terrorist activities and will work more closely with China to fight cross-border terrorist groups.

The increased security comes amid a two-month crackdown on terrorism ordered earlier this month following violence in Xinjiang's major southern cities, Kashgar and Hotan, that had left at least 40 people dead and dozens of others injured.

Kashgar officials blamed Islamic radicals trained in overseas terrorist camps for masterminding the attacks.

Zhu said Urumqi officials were "very concerned" and felt a huge challenge after violence broke out in the two southern cities.

The hostile forces want to deter China's development, and view Xinjiang as the ideal place to launch sabotage activities, Zhu said. "We must always stay vigilant and have a clear understanding of the security situation."

Xinjiang has been battling separatism, extremism and terrorism for decades.


Leave your comment1 comments

  1. Name

Sam Teng at 2011-09-08175.136.48.*
China must not allow any minorities to impose their will through terrorist activites on the peace loving majority in Xinjang. No stones should be left unturned to flush out these terrorists. They must be punished severely so as to teach them a lesson that terrorism has no place in China, and Xinjang in particular.

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