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Thursday, 8 May 2014

China attacks escalate as militants raise stakes

BEIJING: A series of dramatic attacks in Chinese public spaces signals a worrying new attempt by militants from mainly Muslim Xinjiang to raise the stakes in response to Beijing’s heavy security measures, analysts say.

Violence, long concentrated against local security authorities and in street rioting, has since late last year been aimed at high-profile targets both inside and outside the resource-rich region.

A fiery vehicle crash in Tiananmen Square – symbolic heart of the Chinese state – last October was followed by a horrific knife attack in March at a railway station in the southern city of Kunming in which 29 died and 143 were wounded.

Last week assailants using knives and explosive devices attached to their bodies attacked a train station in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital.

This resulted in three deaths – including two alleged attackers – and 79 wounded.

And on Tuesday a lone attacker was shot and caught after a slashing attack that injured six people at a station in the southern city of Guangzhou, police said, further fraying nerves.

Raffaello Pantucci, an expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London, called the apparent change in tactics a “worrying development” by militants who saw themselves as “part of an oppressed people who are not being recognised and supported”.

“Obviously, people don’t think that their message is getting through and that they’re being heard,” he said.

“If they’re not being heard, then you have to make a louder sound.

“There may be some negative repercussions but the negative repercussions in some way will only feed the narrative that you’re trying to advance.” — AFP

Tags / Keywords: china , militants , attacks , public spaces


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