China

China sentences nine people to death in Xinjiang

Police at scene of attack in Urumqi - 22 May Image copyright AP
Image caption Security is tight in Urumqi, where ethnic tensions between Uighurs and Han Chinese continue

Nine people have been sentenced to death on terrorism charges in China's north-western region of Xinjiang.

State TV said they were among 81 people found guilty. Sentences were handed down at six different courts. The charges included murder and arson.

Earlier 29 "terror suspects" were detained in Urumqi on charges including inciting separatism and ethnic hatred.

Chinese officials have blamed militant Uighur groups for a growing number of violent attacks across the country.

These include an attack in Beijing, where a car ploughed into pedestrians in Tiananmen Square, killing five people, and attacks at railway stations in Urumqi and Kunming.

China's state broadcaster described the main charges against those sentenced on Thursday as relating to organising, leading or participating in a terrorist organisation.

Six courts in Xinjiang heard a total of 23 separate cases, it said, handing down nine death penalties and long custodial sentences.

'Year-long campaign'

The latest convictions come amid a sweeping security crackdown in the region, reports the BBC's John Sudworth in Shanghai.

Last month China launched what it called a "year-long campaign against terrorism" after 39 people were killed when five suicide bombers attacked a street market in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital.

Last week 55 people were sentenced for terrorism, separatism and murder at a show trial in Xinjiang.

Beijing has blamed an increasing number of attacks on civilian targets on Uighur separatists, who it says are inspired by extreme religious ideology from abroad, our correspondent says.

Critics of China's policies in Xinjiang point to economic inequality and cultural and religious repression as other possible reasons for the growing radicalism and resentment.

China says it is pouring money into the Xinjiang region, but some Uighurs say their traditions and freedoms are being crushed.


Uighurs and Xinjiang

  • Uighurs are ethnically Turkic Muslims
  • They make up about 45% of the region's population; 40% are Han Chinese
  • China re-established control of the region in 1949 after crushing the short-lived state of East Turkestan
  • Since then, there has been large-scale immigration of Han Chinese
  • Uighurs fear erosion of their traditional culture

Why is there tension between China and the Uighurs?


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