- Associated Press - Monday, August 1, 2011

URUMQI, CHINAChina on Monday blamed Muslim extremists trained in Pakistan for launching one of two deadly weekend attacks in a troubled far western region.

Meanwhile, overseas activists feared the government could respond by cracking down on ethnic Uighurs widely blamed for the unrest.

Sunday’s attack left 11 dead, including five suspected assailants, in the Silk Road city of Kashgar.

Authorities have not pinpointed suspects behind clashes a day earlier in the city that killed seven, including one of two men who allegedly hijacked a truck and rammed it into a crowd.

The weekend violence raised tensions across the Xinjiang region on China’s western frontier, which has been under tight security since 2009, when almost 200 people were killed in fighting between Han Chinese and minority Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group that sees Xinjiang as its homeland.

The German-based World Uyghur Congress said it feared the violence could prompt a government crackdown on Uighurs still blamed for the unrest two years ago.

Kashgar issued warrants and offered $16,000 for information leading to the arrest of two Uighur suspects allegedly seen fleeing the scene of Sunday’s attack. The city said a “group of armed terrorists” had stormed a restaurant and killed the owner and a waiter before setting fire to the building.

The suspects then ran out into the street and stabbed civilians at random, killing another four people and injuring 12, the city said. Police fired at the suspects, killing four on the scene while a fifth died later in a hospital.

The city said Monday an initial investigation showed members of the group allegedly behind Sunday’s attack had been trained in explosives and firearms in Pakistani camps run by the banned East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a militant group advocating independence for Xinjiang.

It offered no proof in the statement on its website. China says the group is allied with al Qaeda.

Pakistan, a key ally to China, condemned the violence and offered support in combating the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. A Foreign Ministry statement said it is “fully confident” the people of the Xinjiang autonomous region and the Chinese government “will succeed in frustrating evil designs of the terrorists, extremists and separatists, who constitute an evil force.”

Xinjiang region has been beset by ethnic conflict and a sometimes violent separatist movement by Uighurs, who say they have been marginalized as more majority Han Chinese move into the region.

A spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, which advocates nonviolence, said Uighurs increasingly were staging protests against their treatment within China.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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