BEIJING: China has placed six men from the Uighur ethnic minority on a “terror” list, accusing them of involvement in terrorist training camps and of inciting attacks in the restive western Xinjiang region.
China’s Ministry of Public Security said the men, whose names identify them as Uighurs, were members of the outlawed East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), blaming one for orchestrating violent attacks in the city of Kashgar last July.
Chinese authorities have accused the ETIM, which wants an independent homeland for Xinjiang’s Uighurs, of orchestrating attacks in the region on many occasions.
The United States and the United Nations have listed the group as a “terrorist” organisation, and China has previously said it has operations in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan.
The public security ministry said in a statement late Thursday it had frozen the funds and assets of the six men, whose whereabouts are not known.
Xinjiang has been under heavy security since July 2009, when Uighurs launched attacks on Han people — who make up most of China’s population — in the regional capital Urumqi.
The government says nearly 200 people were killed and 1,700 injured in the violence, which shattered the authoritarian Communist Party’s claims of harmony and unity among the country’s dozens of ethnic groups.
Many Uighurs remain angry at the harsh crackdown that followed the violence.
Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan, is home to around nine million Uighurs, but the number of Han living there has increased dramatically over the past decade.
Government critics say this results from a policy of migration to dilute any Uighur nationalist tendencies and has bred resentment in the region.
China blames much of the violence in the resource-rich region on what it calls the three “evil forces” of extremism, separatism and terrorism.
But some experts doubt terror cells operate in Xinjiang, where the Turkic-speaking Uighurs practise a moderate form of Islam.