An Al-Qaeda branch in North Africa threatened to take revenge on oversea Chinese for the deaths of Muslim Uygurs in the deadly July 5 violence in China's Xinjiang, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing a report from a risk analysis company.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb s said it would attack over 50,000 Chinese workers in Algeria and Chinese nationals and projects across northwestern Africa, according to Stirling Assynt, which has offices in London and Hong Kong.
This threat should be taken seriously, the company said, adding that three weeks ago the Islamist group ambushed a convoy of Algerian security forces protecting Chinese engineers, killing 24 Algerians.
The conflict between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese in Urumqi on July 5 has left at least 186 people dead, which will probably climb as authorities said on Sunday that 74 of the 1681 injured are on the verge of death.
Chinese police shot dead two armed people and injured third on Monday to stop them from attacking the fourth person with clubs and knives, all of whom were Uighurs.
The conflict happened at a mosque as a man urged a jihad, or holy war, the official Xinhua News Agency said on Monday.
When the mosque's imam called for help to expel the man, people alongside the protester brandished knives, according to the report. The two men were shot dead by police as they chased one of the mosque's security guards, Xinhua reported.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which wants to impose an Islamic state in Algeria, was founded in the mid-1990s. It pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden in 2003. The Maghreb is the Arabic name for the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, Bloomberg said.
It is the first militant group to formally react to the violence in Xinjiang province, Stirling Assynt said. The company said there had been an increase in chatter on the Internet among so-called jihadists, or militants engaged in a holy war, about the need for action to avenge the perceived injustices in Xinjiang.
Some of these individuals have been actively seeking information on China's interests in the Muslim world which they could use for targeting purposes, Stirling Assynt said, adding locations included North Africa, Sudan, Pakistan and Yemen.
Other militant groups may make similar threats and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula could well target Chinese projects in Yemen, according to the report.
Chinese President Hu Jintao cut short his trip to the Group of Eight summit in Italy to deal with the unrest.
We hope the relevant Muslim countries and Muslims can recognize the true nature of the July 5 incident in Urumqi, Qin Gang, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, said on Tuesday at a press release in Beijing. It's not an issue of religion or ethnic groups, he said, adding that The purpose is the sabotage of China's unity and ethnic solidarity.
Qin said the Chinese government is firmly opposed to terrorism of any form. He added the Chinese government will continue to pay close attention to the situation and strengthen cooperation with other countries to ensure the security of Chinese citizens and companies overseas.
As the Chinese police try to restore normalcy in the riot-hit Urumqi, they have ordered citizens on July 12 to carry identity cards when they step out of their homes.
Police will take away for interrogation anyone who does not have a card, said the Urumqi Public Security Bureau.