- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

China vowed Tuesday to “resolutely strike against all forms of terrorism” after a a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden van inside the compound of the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan, killing himself and wounding several others.

After ramming through the main door of the compound in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, the driver “immediately detonated the explosive device packed in the van, causing a powerful explosion, killing himself and wounding two security guards and three local people working at the embassy,” China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

Officials from both Beijing and Kyrgyzstan — a predominantly Muslim former Soviet republic that borders China to the northwest — described the assault as a terrorist act and Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev ordered his government to quickly expand counterterrorism measures in the capital and surrounding areas.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, although rumors swirled over the extent to which it may have involved the Islamic State.

Recent months have seen Kyrgyz authorities arrest several suspected jihadis in the nation with alleged links to the Syria- and Iraq-based group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, which is seen to be actively recruiting militants in Kyrgyzstan and other former Soviet republics.

Fears of terrorist activity in the region heightened in June after Turkish authorities said three men who carried out a deadly attack on Istanbul airport were of Uzbek, Russian and Kyrgyz descent.

With regard to Tuesday’s bombing in Bishkek, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that “China is deeply shocked by this and strongly condemns this violent and extreme act,” according to Reuters, which reported that the ministry later said China would “resolutely strike against all forms of terrorism” and protect the safety of its people and government organizations overseas.

It was not immediately clear whether the incident will also trigger heightened security measures by Chinese authorities in the nation’s northwest, which is home to the mainly Muslim Uighur Autonomous Region.

Chinese officials claimed last year ethnic Uighurs who once fought with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq were returning to the region with plots to attack China.

The claim underscored the increasingly global reach of the extremist outfit that has drawn more foreign fighters than any other jihadi movement in decades. But U.S. officials cast scrutiny over it at the time, and analysts cautioned that Beijing has a habit of promoting false information to justify crackdowns on Uighur dissents in China’s far-western Xinjiang province.

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