Chinese authorities have confirmed an attack on security personal at a checkpoint in the restive far western region of Xinjiang, which a U.S.-backed radio service said left five dead.
The official confirmation came in an article by the local government about public study sessions against terrorism, apparently set up in response to the Friday attack, although the article provided few details.
In a Sunday report, Radio Free Asia said assailants stabbed two police officers guarding a security checkpoint in Qaraqash county and set fire to a room in which three other officers were sleeping, killing all five.
The local government article Tuesday said militia members manning a checkpoint were killed. Confirmation of such attacks can be difficult, because authorities often play down attacks targeting symbols of power.
VIDEO: BEIJING ESCALATES PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN
Also Tuesday, Chinese state television showed dramatic footage on Tuesday of what the government calls terrorist attacks by Islamist militants from Xinjiang, as it steps up its propaganda campaign to counter an upsurge in violence.
The images, shown on CCTV’s English-language channel as part of a program on the threat China says it faces in Xinjiang, include surveillance camera footage of an attack at the north end of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square last October.
Five people were killed and 40 hurt when a car plowed into a crowd and burst into flames. The dead included three people in the car identified by authorities as Islamists from Xinjiang.
In the colour footage, not shown before in such detail, the car speeds through the crowd, smashing into pedestrians, as a black flag with what looks like Arabic lettering flies out the left-hand side. The back of the vehicle is then shown on fire. “The tourists didn’t stand a chance,” the narrator says.
China has released such images before, notably during anti-Chinese riots in Tibet in 2008, as it addresses a foreign audience and tries to win over critics of its human rights record to show the country faces a real public security problem.
XINJIANG: A RESTIVE REGION
Xinjiang is the home of Muslim Uyghurs, who speak a Turkic language. China has blamed previous attacks on Islamists it says seek to establish an independent state called East Turkestan.
Exiled Uyghur groups and human-rights activists say the government’s repressive policies in Xinjiang, including restrictions on religious practices, have provoked unrest, allegations denied by Beijing.
China says the main group responsible for attacks in Xinjiang is the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, though many foreign experts doubt it exists as the coherent, well-organized group portrayed by Beijing.
Around 200 people have died in attacks blamed on Xinjiang militants in China in the past year or so, and the authorities have launched a campaign to stop the unrest, detaining hundreds and executing a dozen others.
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