Eleven die as bombers strike in restive province

Eleven people were killed in suicide bomb attacks on government offices and a subsequent police shoot-out in the restive province of Xinjiang as Muslim militants stepped up their campaign of violence in China's "wild west" to highlight their demand for separatism.

It was the second major attack in the province in less than a week. China has identified militants seeking an independent "East Turkestan" homeland for Muslim Uighurs as the biggest threat to security at the Olympics.

Two suicide bombers armed with home-made grenades and a security guard died in the dawn attacks on government offices in the town of Kuqa, in the south of Xinjiang, more than 1,800 miles from the Chinese capital, Beijing. Police subsequently shot dead eight assailants, the Xinhua news agency reported. The bombers travelled by taxi to their targets.

Security was high on the agenda at the weekend, with the bombings yesterday and the killing on Saturday of the father-in-law of the US men's volleyball coach in a knife attack at a popular tourist spot, the Drum Tower, in the capital. Another family member was injured.

Yesterday's bombings followed an attack last week in which separatists drove a truck into a group of policeman who were out jogging in Kashgar, in the far west of the province, before throwing home-made grenades and attacking the officers with knives, killing 16.

Wang Wei, secretary general of the Beijing Games organisers, said Xinjiang separatists were engaged in a campaign to use the "platform of the Olympics to amplify the effects" of their actions. Keen to reassert control, police have sealed off the entire county and closed shops and businesses.

The province is home to eight million Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group who share linguistic and cultural bonds with central Asia, and is an area from where China gets much of its oil and gas. Uighurs used to dominate the region, but Han Chinese now make up the majority of the province's 20 million people after an intensive resettlement policy in recent years.

The Islamist separatists want autonomy and have been linked to a number of recent attacks. Last week they issued a chilling video containing footage of a bomb factory and urging people to "stay away from the Games". The separatists have also been linked to a bus bombing in the city of Kunming last month, five days before which a Uighur militant was discovered carrying 100 detonators.

With 2.3 million soldiers, 800,000 reservists and a People's Armed Police of 1.5 million, the People's Liberation Army is the biggest army in the world, but it has had a tough job keeping a lid on violence in Xinjiang. Thousands of soldiers are stationed there to protect the valuable oil and gas deposits. Long lines of army trucks can be seen driving alongside the network of new highways criss-crossing the desert province.

The authorities in Beijing say the Uighurs in Xinjiang are violent Islamist fundamentalists trying to cut off the province from Chinese rule. Human rights groups regularly complain about how the Uighurs are treated and accuse Beijing of using its support for Washington's "war on terror" against al-Qa'ida as an excuse for clamping down on their activities.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environment
News
This artist impression shows a modern-day Atlantis
news
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital