By CHI-CHI ZHANG, Associated Press – 14 hours ago
BEIJING (AP) — A militant Muslim group claimed by video it carried out recent attacks in western China that killed at least three dozen people, a monitoring group said.
The video was purportedly made by the Turkistan Islamic Party, which seeks independence for China’s western Xinjiang region, the SITE Intelligence Group said this week. The militants are believed to be based in Pakistan, where security experts say core members have been trained by al-Qaida.
Xinjiang is home to largely Muslim ethnic Uighurs (pronounced WEE’-gur) who say they have been marginalized by an influx of China’s majority Han to the region. Ethnic riots there two years ago killed at least 197 people.
Security has been raised, but still, dozens were killed in slashings and arson and hit-and-run attacks in the cities of Hotan and Kashgar in July.
The more than 10-minute video released in late August features Turkistan Islamic Party leader Abdul Shakoor Damla, whose face is blotted out, saying those attacks were revenge against the Chinese government.
Ben Venzke, of Washington-based IntelCenter, another monitor of militant groups, said TIP threatened to attack the 2008 Beijing Olympics and should be taken seriously.
“Their profile has been heightened since threats made during the Olympics and videos have shown us that they have even received recognition from senior al-Qaeda leaders recognizing their presence in China,” Venzke said.
In 2008, TIP released videos claiming responsibility for several bus bombings in China and warned Muslims to stay away from any place Han Chinese were, including buses, planes, buildings and trains.