Chinese authorities said Thursday that 29 people described as “terror suspects” have been arrested in Xinjiang, home to the minority Muslim Uighur group, following a series of deadly attacks in the area, according to media reports.
A state-run Chinese news outlet reported that the suspects were detained in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region in northwestern China, which faced a deadly attack, blamed on Muslim extremists, which killed 39 people and injured 94 people on May 22, leading to the latest anti-terror crackdown in the region. Many among the restive province's minority community have protested in the past against religious repression by the Communist government in Beijing, and the recent high-profile attacks in Xinjiang, and other parts of the country, reportedly pose a serious security challenge for President Xi Jinping.
The suspects who have been arrested in Urumqi will face charges including "inciting separatism" and "disturbing order in a public place," media reports said, citing state-run Xinjiang Net. Police officials had reportedly said that four suspects involved in the attack at a marketplace in the city were killed at the scene, while another suspect was arrested on the same day in an area about 150 miles south of Urumqi.
Those detained were described as "violent terrorist criminal suspects," but it was not clear whether they had any direct link to the recent attacks in the region. In April, when Xi was concluding his visit to the region, the Urumqi train station was attacked by assailants wielding knives and bombs, killing three, including two attackers, and injuring 79 people.
Last month, a rally was held in a Xinjiang stadium, which was attended by more than 7,000 people where 55 people found guilty of charges such as terrorism and separatism were sentenced, while government officials reportedly said that more than 200 people were detained in the region in recent weeks and about 23 extremist groups had been dismantled.
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