Fugitive terror suspect nabbed
Updated: 2013-07-01 09:04
By Cui Jia in Urumqi (China Daily)
Leaders call for enhanced anti-terror efforts as more details released about latest attack
The only suspect who fled the scene after a terror attack in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region last week was arrested on Sunday, local police said.
A group of terrorists launched the attack on Wednesday in Lukqun township, Turpan prefecture, leaving 35 people dead, including 11 suspected terrorists.
Ahmetniaz Stek, the suspected gang leader, has been allegedly organizing its members for extreme religious activities and instigating people to carry out terror attacks since February, Xinjiang police said.
The 17-member terror group has been raising funds to purchase knives and gasoline since June. They also checked out the routes to and from the places that they planned to attack, the police said.
Acting on a tip, police arrested one member of the group on Tuesday. Ahmetniaz feared that his group might be compromised and decided to launch the attack with the rest of the members the next day, according to the police.
At around 5:50 am on Wednesday, the group attacked the township's police station and government office, as well as a construction site, shops and beauty salons. They also set fire to vehicles and attacked police officers and others with knives.
Of the 24 people they killed, two were women and 16 were Uygurs. Two police officers were also killed. Twenty-one others were injured.
Eleven attackers were shot dead at the scene while four were arrested.
Attacks by terrorists must be halted and neighborhoods must be protected, Zhang Chunxian, Party chief of Xinjiang, said during a conference to officials from around the region on Saturday night. He stressed that efforts must be made to stamp out the root of extremist religious activities.
On April 23, 15 people, including police officers and community workers, were killed by terrorists in Selibuya township, Kashgar prefecture. Police evidence later indicated that the terror group was brainwashed by religious extremists.
Zhang said the anti-terrorism work is extremely important as Xinjiang is facing severe threats from separatists.
Two days after the attack in Lukqun, a group of armed people gathered in Hotan county, Hotan prefecture, at around 3:30 pm, causing unrest on Friday. No casualties were reported.
Although Xinjiang's economic growth has sped up over the past few years, problems undermining the region's stability haven't been solved, as separatist forces at home and abroad have intensified their activities, Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said on Saturday.
"We should be clearly aware of the complex and acute nature of the long-term struggle against separatism," Yu said after arriving in Urumqi, the regional capital.
"We will step up actions to crack down on terrorist groups and extremist organizations and track the wanted," he said.
Meng Jianzhu, head of the Party's Political and Legislative Affairs Committee, said the Armed Police should closely cooperate with local public security organs, and carry out 24-hour patrols to protect the public.
He made the remark at a gathering for mobilizing anti-terror efforts in Urumqi on Saturday night.
Wang Zhilei, an Urumqi resident who witnessed the July 5 riot in the city in 2009, which left 197 dead, echoed the calls made by authorities.
"We want to see and feel the government can actually protect us. The scariest thing about a terror attack is that it can happen to anyone, anywhere and anytime," he said.
"The recent attacks have brought back the memories and fears of many people. Please don't let similar incident happen again," the 35-year-old said on Sunday.
Abrat Aishan, deputy director of academic affairs at the Xinjiang Islamic Institute, said the law is the best weapon to protect religion and prevent the spread of extremist beliefs.
Keram Abliz, deputy director of the Xinjiang Islamic Association, said patriotic religious leaders around the region are the main force to fight extreme religions.
They should use their influence to let people know about the dangers of such extreme beliefs and to treasure peaceful life. After all, terrorists are the enemy of all people, no matter what their beliefs are, he said.
(China Daily USA 07/01/2013 page4)