32 ‘gangs’ busted, tonnes of explosives seized in anti-terror crackdown

Chinese authorities said on Monday they had detained 380 people and busted 32 “gangs” in a month-long anti-terror crackdown in its western Xinjiang region.

Police officials said more than 264 explosive devices, three tonnes of explosives and 357 “controlled knives” were seized in the crackdown, which was launched following a bomb attack last month on a market place in Urumqi, the regional capital, that left at least 39 people killed.

Xinjiang has been rocked by a series of attacks in recent months, with knife attacks and bomb blasts targeting railway stations in Urumqi and Kunming in Yunnan.

The government’s anti-terror crackdown has not stopped the spate of incidents: Only on Saturday, 13 people were killed when a group of attackers drove an SUV into a police office near Kashgar, close to the western border.

The crackdown has underlined the increasing scale of the challenge posed to the government in the frontier Muslim-majority desert region.

Illegal preaching sites

Raids were conducted on as many as 21 “illegal preaching sites and training camps”, said Wang Qianrong, head of the Xinjiang public security bureau or police authority, as reported by State media.

The government has blamed overseas ethnic Uighur separatist groups for fomenting the violence by posting videos on the Internet. Chinese officials also believe that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) terror group is operating training camps across the border in Pakistan; Xinjiang shares a border with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Mr. Wang said that of the more than 300 people convicted over terror charges, some had been held for “illegally crossing international borders”.

Last week, 13 people were executed for organising and participating in terror groups, while more than 55 people were jailed in a mass trial earlier this month.

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