Would be given ‘mitigated punishments’ if they turned themselves in within 30 days

In the wake of Thursday’s bomb attack on a market in China’s western Xinjiang region, Chinese authorities have called on “law-breakers involved in terrorism” to turn themselves in for “lenient punishments”.

The offer from authorities came in a joint statement issued by Xinjiang’s public security or police department, even as it prepared to launch a year-long campaign to root out terror groups in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region that will involve, officials said, “extraordinary strike-hard” measures.

Thursday’s attack by at least five assailants on a crowded morning market in the provincial capital, Urumqi, left at least 39 people killed and more than 94 injured in what was the biggest ever terror attack on Chinese soil.

The statement on Sunday underlined the government’s fears that terror groups in Xinjiang, like the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), were drawing support from cells or groups overseas in neighbouring Pakistan or Afghanistan.

The statement said the government “bans people from illegally crossing borders or organising, plotting, transporting or assisting others to cross borders”.

Xinjiang borders Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), Afghanistan and several countries.

The statement added that those involved in illegal terror activities would be given “mitigated punishments” if they turned themselves in within 30 days.

Authorities said on Sunday they had busted 23 terror groups and detained over 200 suspects in May alone.

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