China cracks down on terror in Xinjiang

China has begun enforcing a two-month “strike hard” in its far-western Xinjiang region, putting in place 24-hour patrols, street searches and identity checks on citizens to crack down on violent terrorism and “extreme religious thought”.

The regional government said in a statement on Tuesday the campaign had begun last Thursday — less than two weeks after violent attacks in the cities of Hotan and Kashgar left at least 20 people dead.

The “strike hard” campaign, which would last till October 15, aimed “to curb the momentum of frequent terrorist activities”, and ensure the security of a China-Eurasia trade fair, which was to start on September 1, said authorities. The government also warned it would “severely punish” anyone who publicised or spread “extreme religious thought” and crack down on “illegal religious activities”.

Earlier this week, the government dispatched its elite counterterrorism force, the Snow Leopard Commando unit, to southern Xinjiang to carry out anti-terrorism missions in Kashgar and Hotan. In Urumqi, the regional capital which will host the China-Eurasia fair, the city's Communist Party chief Zhu Hailun said “patrol teams” of more than 50 people each would be formed in more than 100 “prominent communities” of the city, the official China Daily reported.

In Tianshan district, which was at the centre of rioting during the July 2009 ethnic unrest that left at least 197 people dead, a patrol team of 7,300 community members, led by 300 police officers, had been put in place.

Local authorities had also put in place a system to reward those who inform of illegal activities.

  • Against “extreme religious thought”
  • Severe punishment warned

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