Police Raid in China Kills Two Suspected of Planning Attacks

By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BEIJING, Feb. 18 -- China said Monday that police in the western region of Xinjiang had carried out a deadly raid against a group of extremists planning a series of attacks.

The conspirators were said to be members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a separatist group classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Chinese governments. Separatists have previously staged bombings in Xinjiang, where Uighurs, who are Muslim, make up the largest ethnic group.

The raid occurred over the Chinese New Year holiday but was disclosed only on Monday. According to the Global Times, a tabloid published by the official People's Daily newspaper, the raid took place Jan. 27 at an apartment building in the Tianshan district of Urumqi city, the capital of Xinjiang. Two suspects were killed and 15 others arrested, it said.

Authorities found homemade arms and explosives, terrorism training equipment and religious materials, the Global Times said. The suspects were said to be planning to attack Feb. 5, the anniversary of 1997 riots in which Uighurs protested Chinese rule.

Uighurs have conducted a sometimes violent campaign against Chinese rule in Xinjiang. The Communist Party has stressed the threat of terrorism in the run-up to the Olympics, which begin Aug. 8, and identified the East Turkestan movement as a chief sponsor of attacks.

As a result, Olympic organizers have assigned more than 100 military and antiterrorism experts and more than 100,000 police officers to patrol during the Games, the Global Times said in a separate article Monday. In addition, the People's Liberation Army is being trained to deal with biochemical and nuclear threats.

Human rights groups have complained that China discriminates against the Uighurs and accuses peaceful activists of separatism, a crime that can lead to the death penalty.

News researcher Li Jie contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company