URUMQI – The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has launched a two-month anti-terrorism campaign and vowed to hunt down terrorists in the region, local authorities said in a statement released on Monday.
“The frequency with which terrorist activities are carried out in the region is rising and it must be curbed. Public security forces around Xinjiang will uncover the masterminds and organizers behind such activities,” the autonomous region’s public security department said in the statement.
The campaign, which was launched on Aug 11 and will last until Oct 15, aims to maintain stability in the region and keep it free of violence during the China-Eurasia Expo. That large trade convention will take place in Urumqi, capital of the region, from Sept 1 to 5. The campaign is also meant to keep order during China’s National Day celebrations on Oct 1.
“We will crack down on all kinds of crimes that might induce violence or terrorist activities,” the statement said.
To this end, the campaign will target illegal religious activities and the production, sale and storage of illegal publications promoting violent terrorism or extreme religious thought.
Leaflets calling for the region’s independence appeared in southern Xinjiang’s Aksu soon after two violent attacks left at least 14 people dead in Kashgar at the end of July. The government said the attacks were staged by a group of religious extremists led by militants trained in foreign terrorist camps bordering Xinjiang.
A unit of the Snow Leopard Commandos – China’s elite counterterrorism force under the People’s Armed Police – was stationed in Aksu last week.
There will also be round-the-clock street patrols in Xinjiang, and security in public places, including train stations, markets and shopping malls, will be increased.
Plainclothes police will be stationed in key areas so they can react quickly to an emergency and control a situation before it escalates. Suspect vehicles and people will also be rigorously inspected.
Security in Xinjiang has already been tightened after a deadly riot in Urumqi two years ago, which left 197 dead. In the regional capital, bag checks and car boot inspections in public places have become part of people’s daily