China Executes 13 Over Terrorism, Violent Crimes

BEIJING (AP) -
(REUTERS/CCTV/via Reuters TV )
(REUTERS/CCTV/via Reuters TV )

China executed 13 people on Monday over terrorism and violent crimes in the far western region of Xinjiang, including three men accused in an attack that left at least 34 people dead, state media said.

The executions took place on the same day that a Xinjiang court sentenced three other people to death for planning a deadly car ramming at Beijing’s Tiananmen Gate last year that killed five people. The government has been waging a harsh crackdown after a series of deadly attacks blamed on Muslim separatists in the Xinjiang region.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the 13 executed people were convicted of crimes such as organizing, leading and participating in terrorism groups, arson, murder, burglary, and illegal manufacturing, storage and transporting of explosives.

The government says it faces grave terrorist threats from people seeking independence for Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, and has vowed severe punishments.

Among those executed, three men organized an assault that killed 24 people last June in the town of Lukqun. Xinhua earlier reported that police had killed at least 10 of the attackers. The three men were sentenced to death last September in a one-day trial.

Xinhua said a fourth person who was executed had detonated an explosive device at an illegal preaching site in June 2012, killing a child. It did not provide any details of the remaining nine people.

Simmering ethnic tensions in Xinjiang have escalated in the past year, as assailants have begun to strike outside the region and at civilians, a departure from their previous targets of government offices, police stations or other symbols of rule by the ethnic Han Chinese majority.

Beijing says unrest among Uighurs is caused by extremist groups with ties to Islamic terror groups abroad, but has provided little direct evidence.