The attacks in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Sunday are a reminder that the massive country is strife with ethnic unrest.
Over the weekend, a group of Islamic militants in the China's northwesternmost province attacked the city of Kashgar, killing 11. The city is largely inhabited by the Uyghur people, an ethnic, Islamic minority.
Chinese officials concluded that the acts, which included bombings, riots and a stabbing, were carried out by a group related to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.
East Turkestan is a fundamentalist state within Xinjiang, that seeks to separate from Mainland China. The region has been independent for brief periods in modern history, although all attempts at independence were short-lived.
The Uygurs established a republic in the 1930s, but were quickly taken over by the Hui army in 1933. The Soviets also backed an East Turkestan state established by Uyghur rebels in the 1940s, but the region was unrecognized by other nations and was absorbed by the Republic of China in 1950.
Aside from the Uyghurs, there are a number of other separatist movements in the People's Republic. The best known involves Tibet, which China incorporated in 1950. That separatist campaign was started by Buddhist monks, and now has the support of Amnesty International and a number of other international organizations.
Along with the Uyghurs and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, there are also ethnic Mongolians, who this spring voiced their anger over Chinese rule.
Protestors took to the streets in May after two ethnic Mongolians were killed accidentally by Han Chinese in the province of Inner Mongolia. There are about 6-million ethnic Mongolians in China, and many feel that their culture and traditional lifestyle are being threatened. Han Chinese have made the ethnic tribesmen a minority in Inner Mongolia, destroying grasslands with new coal mines.
According to Chinese authorities, the captured Uyghur terrorists responsible for the violence over the weekend said the East Turkestan group received training in Pakistan.
Pakistan has pledged their support to China, saying it will work with the government to track and stop the East Turkestan movement.
"Pakistan is fully confident that the patriotic people of Xinjiang autonomous region of the People's Republic of China and, in particular, Kashgar as well as the Chinese government, will succeed in frustrating evil designs of the terrorists, extremists and separatists, who constitute an evil force," the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
China has vowed to destroy the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. Xinjiang's Communist Party secretary Zhang Chunxian said that authorities are cracking down on "religious extremism," according to Voice of America. The government has also banned "illegal religious activities" -- coincidentally at the same time that Ramadan starts, which will certainly anger the Uyghur minority.
In 2009, riots between Uyghurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang left about 200 people dead.