September 30, 2005

US warns of possible terror in China’s northwest

BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States has warned American
travellers to be vigilant against a terrorist attack in China's
restive northwestern region of Xinjiang after Beijing told
police there to be prepared for danger.

The call came ahead of the 50th anniversary on Saturday of
the establishment of Xinjiang as an autonomous region.

Muslim Uighur militants, whom Beijing calls terrorists or
separatists, have been struggling for decades to make the
remote region, formally established on October 1, 1955, an
independent state called East Turkestan.

"Americans considering travel to the region and those
already there should review their plans carefully, remain
vigilant with regard to their personal security and exercise
caution," a message e-mailed from the U.S. embassy in China

"Terrorists do not distinguish between official and
civilian targets. Americans in remote areas or border regions
where military or police authority is limited or non-existent
could also become targets."

Chinese security chief Luo Gan had urged law enforcement
officers and armed police in Xinjiang to crack down on
criminals to create a "safer environment for economic growth
and social progress," the China Daily newspaper said on

Luo, a Politburo Standing Committee member, also said
officials at all levels should be "prepared for danger in times
of safety" and "keep a clear mind."

The Public Security Ministry said earlier this month that
more than 260 terrorist acts had been committed in Xinjiang in
the past two decades, killing 160 and wounding 440. It labeled
East Turkestan forces the main terrorist threat to China.

Majority-Muslim Xinjiang is home to nearly 20 million
people, more than 60 per cent of them considered ethnic
minorities in predominantly Han China.

Wang Lequan, the Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang,
said last month that Rebiya Kadeer, a minority Uighur
businesswoman freed in March after years in jail and exiled to
the United States, was plotting to sabotage the anniversary
celebrations in Xinjiang, which lies to the north of Tibet.

Kadeer, jailed in 1999 on charges of providing state
secrets abroad, was released on medical parole.