Terrorist attack kills 16 Chinese police, Beijing Olympics could be in Jeopardy. Beijing August 5, 2008
A TERRORIST attack in China's far north-west has left 16 police dead and 16 more injured — and China's Olympic organisers jittery three days before the Beijing Olympics start. The attack took place yesterday morning in Kashgar, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, a vast area bordering Central Asia that is home to China's largest Muslim population.
China has repeatedly warned of terrorist threats emanating from Xinjiang, saying the separatists militants there were planning to attack the Olympics. China has deployed more than 100,000 security personnel to provide security for the Games, which begin on August 8 and end on August 24. Police have reportedly identified five terrorist groups in the region who were allegedly plotting to sabotage the Games.
The official Xinhua newsagency said two attackers drove a dump truck and threw two hand grenades into a team of police who were jogging outside a police station at 8am. Police witnesses said the attackers, who have been apprehended, also attacked the injured with knives after the truck veered into an electricity pole.
Fourteen policemen were killed on the spot and two others died on the way to hospital.
The Xinhua report said the regional public security department had clues suggesting that the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a known Xinjiang separatist group, was planning attacks during the week ahead of the Beijing Olympics. The movement, which reportedly operates in Xinjiang and in neighbouring Afghanistan, is listed by the US, the UN and China as a terrorist group.
China has identified Xinjiang Muslim separatists as its main security concern for disturbances to the Olympics, but human rights groups have accused the Government of using security as a pretence to crack down on dissidents, including Uighurs, throughout the country. Monday's attack follows deadly bombings on buses in the south-western city of Kunming last month and Shanghai in May.
"We have obtained information that international terrorist organisations would likely launch an attack against an Olympic venue in the city during the Games," said Cheng Jiulong, Shanghai Public Security Bureau deputy director and head of the Shanghai security office for the Olympics.
The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is a militant Muslim separatist group in Xinjiang province in northwest China. The U.S. State Department listed the ETIM as a terrorist organization in 2002 during a period of increased U.S.-Chinese cooperation on antiterrorism matters in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Chinese authorities have called the group a threat (China Daily) to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.