China executes 13 in Xinjiang for 'terrorist attacks'

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image captionEight people were sentenced in connection with a car crash in Beijing's Tiananmen Square last October

China has executed 13 people in the western province of Xinjiang for "terrorist attacks", state media say.

The 13 - who reportedly include Muslim ethnic Uighurs - were accused over seven cases including attacks in June 2013 that killed 24 people.

It comes as three other men - who reports say also appear to be Uighurs - were sentenced over a fatal car crash in Beijing last year.

Beijing has blamed Uighur groups for several attacks across the country.

'Attacks on police'

Those executed on Monday had been charged with crimes including "participating in terrorist groups; murder; arson; theft; and illegal manufacture, storage and transportation of explosives", state-run news agency Xinhua said.

The report named three defendants who were convicted of attacking a police station, hotel, government building and other venues in Lukqun, Xinjiang province, on 26 June.

The attack killed 24 police officers and civilians and injured 23 others, Xinhua added.

Verifying reports from the Xinjiang region is difficult because the flow of information is tightly controlled.

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image captionOctober's crash killed five people and injured 38 others

Also on Monday, three men were given death sentences in connection with a crash in Beijing's Tiananmen Square last October, when a car ploughed into a crowd.

Two tourists and three people in the car were killed. Dozens of others were injured.

Xinhua news agency said Husanjan Wuxur, Yusup Umarniyaz and Yusup Ahmat were guilty of "organising and leading a terrorist group and endangering public security".

Five others were given jail sentences.


Reports said several of those sentenced or executed on Monday appeared to be from Xinjiang's Uighur ethnic minority, based on their names.

Beijing has blamed Uighur separatists for a string of attacks around China, including deadly bomb and knife attacks on railway stations in Urumqi in Xinjiang, and Kunming in south-west China.

Uighur leaders deny that they are co-ordinating a terrorist campaign.

Activists have accused Beijing of exaggerating the threat from Uighur separatists in order to justify a crackdown on the Uighurs' religious and cultural freedoms.

Correspondents say Uighurs, who number around nine million, have long complained of repression under Chinese rule - an accusation Beijing denies.

In May, China sentenced 55 people for terrorism, separatism and murder at a Xinjiang stadium in front of thousands of spectators.

Uighurs and Xinjiang

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

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