Stepping up its crackdown against radical separatists in the troubled Muslim-dominated Xinjiang province, China has offered an amnesty to militants saying they would face lenient punishment if they surrender.

Legal, procuratorate and public security authorities in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region issued a joint statement last night calling for law-breakers who are involved in terrorist activities to surrender to get lenient punishments, State-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The statement forbids people to organise, lead or join any terrorist groups. It bans people from implementing or instigating terrorist violence.

It also prohibits people from directly or indirectly funding, supporting or harbouring terrorist activities, terrorist organizations and terrorists.

Those who turn themselves in and make major meritorious performances will be given minor punishment or exempted from punishment, it said.

The new initiative follows the bloodiest terror attack in years at a busy market in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, on Thursday that left 43 people dead.

One suspect has been detained while four others were killed in the blasts.

Following the attack, China has launched an year long crackdown to strike at the root of the militant structures.

China blames East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an al-Qaeda linked outfit, for various attacks in the recent past.

ETIM is fighting for the independence of Xinjiang, which is restive over the past few years over the increasing settlements of Han resented by native Muslim Uygurs, who allege that they are being marginalised in their province.

The new statement by security agencies also bans people from manufacturing, trading, transporting, publicising, copying and holding propaganda materials or electric storages with terrorist violence and religious extremism contents.

Manufacturing, trading, transporting, storing and holding guns, ammunitions, flammable and combustible materials as well as knives under strict control are also prohibited. It also bans people from illegally crossing borders or organizing, plotting, transporting or assisting others to cross borders.

Those who are involved in the above activities will be given mitigated punishments if they turn themselves in within 30 days, it said.

It also encourages the public to inform authorities about the above criminal activities. Those who harbour the criminals will be punished according to law.

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