Manhunt after terror attack

Updated: 2014-03-03 08:56

By Guo Anfei in Kunming Cui Jia, Hu Yongqi and He Na in Beijing (China Daily)

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Manhunt after terror attack

Kunming residents register to donate blood. [Photo / Xinhua]

On April 23, 15 people were killed in an attack in Selibuya township in south Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture. Police said members of a terrorist cell regularly attended meetings where they studied material relating to religious extremism and terrorism. They also underwent physical training and learned to kill by watching footage of terrorist attacks.

The spread of religious extremism has led to an increase in the number of attacks, said Ma Pinyan, a senior anti-terrorism researcher and deputy director of the Ethnic and Religious Studies Center at Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences.

In January, Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang government, said preventing and eliminating religious extremism has become an important task for the region as it strives to maintain long-term stability.

Yang Shu, director of the Institute of Central Asia Studies at Lanzhou University in Gansu province, said Xinjiang-inspired terrorist activities outside the region began much earlier than is generally acknowledged. He said police in the provinces of Gansu and Hebei had foiled several planned attacks in recent years.

On Oct 28, a jeep was driven into a crowd at Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, causing five deaths and 40 injuries. Police found gasoline, knives and steel bars in the car, along with a flag decked with extreme religious slogans.

The police later said the crash was the work of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which the Chinese government describes as a terrorist organization.

Mei Jianming, a professor at People's Public Security University of China, said it's difficult to identify terrorists because they can easily lay down their weapons and blend in with ordinary citizens. Ease of transport also means that they can quickly flee to regions where they are unknown.

According to Yang, the mismanagement of domestic ethnic relations and a misunderstanding of religion have resulted in an increase in domestic terrorism.

Yang said China is currently witnessing a wide range of social transformations and the terrorists use social problems as a way of recruiting new members. The establishment of an innovative social management mechanism to resolve social conflict would be the most effective anti-terrorism measure, he said.

Anti-terrorism legislation

Li of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations said the government should make the establishment of a counter-terrorism early warning and prevention system a top priority. "No matter how effectively we handle the aftermath of attacks, ordinary people are the victims. We need to set up an effective anti-terrorism intelligence mechanism to prevent such atrocities from happening in the first place."