World Bulletin/News Desk
China's East Turkestan (Xinjiang) region has started a "one-year crackdown" on "violent terrorist activities", the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday, providing no further details.
The troubled East Turkestan region in western China (East Turkestan), home to a large Muslim Uihgur minority, was the scene of China's biggest attack in years on Thursday, when explosives hurled from two vehicles in an open market killed 31 people.
China called the attack in the regional capital of Urumqi a "serious violent terrorist incident" and domestic security chief Meng Jianzhu vowed to strengthen a crackdown on the "arrogance of terrorists".
Ninety-four people were wounded.
The incident, which occurred in Urumqi on Thursday morning, was the second attack in the capital in just over three weeks. A bomb and knife attack at an Urumqi train station in late April killed one bystander and wounded 79.
The government recently launched a campaign to strike hard against what it called "terrorism" in East Turkestan, blaming "separatists" for the worsening violence in the resource-rich western region bordering central Asia. At least 180 people have been killed in in attacks across China over the past year.
The attackers ploughed two vehicles into an open market in Urumqi and hurled explosives. Many of the 94 people wounded were elderly shoppers, according to witnesses.
"Five suspects who participated in the violent terrorist attack blew themselves up," the Global Times, a tabloid run by the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, reported on Friday.
The newspaper said authorities "are investigating whether there were other accomplices".
"Judging from the many terrorist attacks that have taken place and the relevant perpetrators, they have received support from terrorist groups outside China's borders as well as religious extremist propaganda spread via the internet," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing.
No group has claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack.
Exiles and many rights groups say the real cause of the unrest in East Turkestan is China's heavy-handed policies, including curbs on religion and the culture and language of ethnic Uighurs.
The Uighurs have long complained of official discrimination in favour of the Han people, China's majority ethnic group.
Residents said the morning market, where the attack occurred, was predominantly frequented by Han Chinese customers, though many of the vendors were Uighurs.
"It looks like (the Chinese authorities) have a metastasizing domestic terrorism problem," Kenneth Lieberthal, a China expert with the Brookings Institution, told Reuters.
"I think the evidence suggests to date that if anything, the rethink (on Xinjiang policy) will be to get tougher."Last Mod: 23 Mayıs 2014, 18:01