Chinese authorities said on Saturday police had identified five attackers behind Thursday’s blast at a market in the capital of the western Xinjiang region that left at least 39 people killed.
Officials said four suspects had died in the attack, while a fifth was in custody. Authorities late on Friday raised the death toll from the blast up from 31 to 39 people, with 94 others injured in the single biggest attack of its kind on Chinese soil.
The five suspects were all Uighurs — the ethnic Turkic-Muslim community native to Xinjiang — according to the names released by officials. They were identified as Nurahmat Ablipiz, Memet Memtimin, Raghimjan Memet, Memtimin Mahmat and Ablet Abdukadir.
Authorities said the five had “long been influenced by religious extremism” and had taken part in “illegal religious activities”, the official Xinhua news agency said.
On Friday, officials suggested the attackers may have also been influenced by “overseas” Uighur groups, with members of the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which has claimed responsibility for earlier attacks, believed to be in Pakistan or Afghanistan.
Security has been tightened at border check points in Xinjiang, which neighbours Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Afghanistan, officials said.
On Friday, the government announced the launch of a year-long “campaign against terror” in Xinjiang involving armed police and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The government said the campaign “will focus on terrorists and religious extremist groups, gun and explosive manufacturing dens and terrorist training camps”. “Terrorists and extremists,” the Xinjiang government said, “will be hunted down and punished”.