On Wednesday China
announcedthat they had detained five people in connection with “a violent terrorist attack which was carefully planned, organised and premeditated.”
The deadly incident took place in Tiananmen Square, the site where pro-democracy demonstrations were suppressed by the military in 1989.
Authorities say that the suspects are all ethnic Uighur, who are Muslims from the far western region of Xinjiang.
Police stated that the SUV involved contained a Uighur man, his wife, his
mother, devices filled with gasoline, knives, and a flag with “religious extremist content” written on it.
The three people died, along with two tourists. At least 38 people were injured when the vehicle burst into flames after approaching the main gate of the Forbidden City.
Police said the five detained suspects enlisted the family to carry out the attack.
From The New York Times:
The police said the five men were arrested 10 hours after the attack and had confessed their involvement. They said investigators had discovered long knives and a “jihadist” flag in the temporary residence where the suspects were staying. It is unclear why the authorities delayed the announcement of the arrests by more than a day.
The incident comes a few weeks before the third full meeting, or plenum, of the party’s current Central Committee, which includes a committee headed by party chief and President Xi Jinping as well as the heads of the biggest state firms and banks. The group took over power in a once-a-decade transition in late 2012.
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the main exiled Uighur group, the World Uyghur Congress, told Reuters that the ethnic group is worried the incident would provide authorities with an excuse “to further repress Uighurs.”
“If an attack is committed by a Han Chinese, it’s not terrorism, but if a Uighur commits it, it is,” he said, referring to the majority community. “Beijing makes these accusations in service of an ulterior motive.”
Uighurs are a Turkic Central Asian people related to Uzbeks, Khazaks and other groups. Restrictions by the Chinese government — including a ban on religious observance by minors and injunctions against traditional male cultural gatherings — have fuelled Uighur demands for independence for Xinjiang.
“The Chinese government will not hesitate to concoct a version of the incident in Beijing, so as to further impose repressive measures on the Uighur people,” World Uyghur Congress president Rebiya Kadeer said in a statement.
Police have arrested at least 139 people in Xinjiang in recent months for allegedly spreading extremism, according to state-run media.
Here’s a look at the aftermath of the incident:
The next day police detained a woman who threw what are believed to be petition papers near the main entrance of the Forbidden City.
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