State media says "more than 190" terror-related attacks reported in the western Xinjiang region last year
China on Monday said it would take steps to crack down on the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) - a terror outfit with ties to several Pakistan-based groups - after the group released a video pledging to launch attacks on high-profile targets in the Chinese capital, including the Parliament building.
State media on Monday said China's western Xinjiang region, where authorities have blamed the TIP for carrying out a number violent attacks, had recorded "more than 190 attacks" carried out "in the name of jihad" last year alone, underlining the instability in the Muslim-majority region.
TIP leader Abdullah Mansour, who, Chinese officials believe, may be hiding in Pakistan or Afghanistan, in a recent video described an October 28 attack in Tiananmen Square as "a jihadi operation". A jeep driven by three Uighurs - the ethnic Turki Muslim group native to Xinjiang - drove into a crowd and burst into flames, killing two tourists, besides the three occupants, and leaving at least 40 people injured.
Chinese officials had blamed the attack on the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) - another name, according to Chinese officials, that the TIP uses - although overseas Uighur groups questioned the official account, suggesting aggrieved citizens may have carried out the attack in response to the demolition of a mosque in Xinjiang.
The Foreign Ministry here said the terror video "fully testifies to the nature of this terrorist organisation".
"It will also let those people who question the nature of incident see clearly," spokesperson Qin Gang told reporters.
"I also want to point that double standards should not be adopted in the fight against terrorism," he said, adding that the ETIM had carried out attacks "leading to great civilian casualties and property losses".
"The Chinese government will continue to crack down on this group," Mr. Qin said. "We call for international cooperation in this regard. The fight against the ETIM should also be part of the international cooperation against terrorism".
Several ETIM members, according to reports, are believed to be hiding out in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Chinese authorities, in 2011, blamed violent attacks in the cities of Hotan and Kashgar on Pakistan-based extremists.
Publicly, Chinese officials have voiced strong backing to Pakistan's "support" to China on the issue, although officials in Xinjiang have, on several occasions, blamed groups with links in Pakistan for causing unrest in the region.
On Monday, the Oriental Outlook magazine, a State-run publication owned by the official Xinhua news agency, reported that the Xinjiang region recorded as many as 190 "violent assaults in the name of jihad" last year. The attacks were mostly carried out by men in their early 30s who were acting in small groups, the AFP news agency quoted the report as saying.
Asked if, following the latest video, China had sought specific action from Pakistan on TIP leaders believed to be in hiding in the country, Mr. Qin, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said he was "not aware of the specifics concerning where the head of the party is hiding".
"But in terms of counterterrorism," he added, "we should enhance cooperation and coordination."