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KUNMING ATTACK: Attackers don't represent true Uygur feelings: Xinjiang chief

Publication Date : 07-03-2014


The deadly knifing attack in south-western Kunming city was the work of a small group of "daydreamers" hoping to rip Xinjiang from its motherland with help from external forces, said a top official of the restive region.

As he poured scorn on their efforts, Xinjiang chairman Nur Bekri stressed that the eight assailants who killed 29 people and hurt 143 others do not represent the majority of peace-loving Uygurs in Xinjiang.

"What they did was against humanity and against the society... Of course, their goal will never be realised," he said yesterday on the sidelines of the annual National People's Congress (NPC) meetings.

Last Saturday's attack at Kunming's railway station cast a sombre mood over the nearly 3,000 delegates attending the NPC session, which began on Wednesday and ends on March 13.

Said Jiangsu NPC delegate Zhou Lan, who attended the session last year: "I think the Kunming attack has affected the delegates psychologically, but I believe it has also strengthened society's cohesion."

However, there are signs the attack has diverted the delegates' attention from the NPC's focus on deepening wide-ranging reforms pledged by President Xi Jinping.

When the meeting ended, some reporters tried to get Bekri and Xinjiang party secretary Zhang Chunxian to comment further on the attack, leading to scuffles.

Several security officers blocked the doorway after the two officials had left the meeting room to prevent more reporters from going after them. Their action prompted some reporters to yell "this is inhumane!"

China has labelled the knifing attack as a terrorist act, and blamed it on Xinjiang separatists seeking to set up a sovereign East Turkestan state. China also believes the eight assailants - four were shot dead and the rest since arrested - had received help from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a militant group based in central and western Asia.

But observers such as Peking University analyst Zhang Jian say the lesson to be drawn is that China should improve its ethnic policies, which he believes focus too much on economic development and not enough on fostering cohesion between ethnic minorities and Han Chinese.

Top Chinese officials are worried the attack may have worsened tensions between Muslim Uygurs, who number about nine million in Xinjiang's 22 million-strong population, and Han Chinese there.

Yesterday, Zhu Weiqun, who chairs the ethnic and religious affairs panel of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which is also holding its annual session this week, said the attack should not be used to tar the Uighur people.

"Most Uygurs are with us in the fight against separatism and violent terrorism. They sincerely support the central government," a China Daily report yesterday quoted him as saying.


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