Oct 31, 2013

    China nabs 5 over Tiananmen 'attack'


    CHINESE police announced yesterday that they have captured five suspects over a "terrorist attack" in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the first time the authorities have accused terrorists of striking in the capital.

    The driver of the sport utility vehicle which sped along the pavement, ploughed into crowds and crashed in the symbolic heart of the Chinese state on Monday was named by the state media as Usmen Hasan.

    His wife and mother were with him, the media said.

    City police said on a verified social-media account that they "ignited the petrol inside the car so that it caught fire" and the three "died at the scene".

    Two tourists, one a woman from the Philippines, were also killed in the incident - close to a huge portrait of Mao Zedong hanging from the walls of the Forbidden City - and 40 people were injured, according to the police.

    It was a "carefully planned, organised and premeditated violent terrorist attack", the police statement said, adding that the car carried petrol, knives and banners bearing extremist religious content.

    Police said the vehicle had a licence plate identifying it as from the restive western region of Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

    The names given for the three dead family members and the five suspects sounded Uighur, although their ethnicities were not stated explicitly.

    The five were arrested on Monday and confessed to plotting the "attack", the police said, adding that "jihad banners", long knives and other items were found in at least one suspect's residence.

    At least one of them was from Lukqun, where the state media said 35 people were killed in June in what Beijing called a "terrorist attack".

    As the authorities stepped up security in Xinjiang, Dilxat Raxit - a spokesman for the main exiled Uighur group, the World Uyghur Congress - warned against believing China's side of the story. He said he was worried the incident would provide the authorities an excuse "to further repress Uighurs".