China militants getting IS 'training'

China militants getting IS 'training'

BEIJING — Chinese militants from the western region of Xinjiang have fled from the country to get "terrorist training" from Islamic State group fighters for attacks at home, state media reported on Monday.

The report was the first time state-run media had linked militants from Xinjiang, home to ethnic minority Uighur Muslims, to militants of the Islamic State group of radical Sunni Muslims.

China's government has blamed a surge of violence over the past year on Islamist militants from Xinjiang who China says are fighting for an independent state called East Turkestan.

Police with riot gear guard a checkpoint on a road near a courthouse where ethnic Uighur academic Ilham Tohti's trial is taking place in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Sept 17. Chinese militants from the western region of Xinjiang have fled from the country to get "terrorist training" from Islamic State group fighters for attacks at home, state media reported on Monday. (Reuters photo)

"They not only want to get training in terrorist techniques, but also to expand their connections in international terrorist organizations through actual combat to gain support for escalation of terrorist activities in China," the Global Times cited an unidentified Chinese "anti-terrorism worker" as saying.

In the latest violence in Xinjiang, state media said two people were killed and several injured in at least three explosions on Sunday.

The Global Times, which is run by the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, said militants from Xinjiang had recently been involved in Islamic State group activities in Syria and Iraq as well as with its "branches" in Southeast Asia.

The newspaper said in the report on its website that four suspected militants from Xinjiang were arrested in Indonesia this month. Indonesian police said last week four foreigners were being questioned but did not identify them.

The four fled to Cambodia from China, and then went to Thailand where they obtained fake Turkish passports, before flying to Indonesia through Malaysia, the newspaper said.

Indonesia has raised concern about a possible spill over of jihadist support after revelations that Indonesian citizens had travelled to Syria and Iraq to join fighters there.

"Terrorists, separatists and extremists" from Xinjiang have often slipped abroad through mountainous provinces in southern China with porous border areas, because border control in Xinjiang was strict, the newspaper said.

"Their ultimate goal is still to fight back into China," Pan Zhiping, a former head of Central Asia studies at Xinjiang's Academy of Social Science, told the Global Times.

The report is likely to lend urgency to a nationwide "anti-terrorism" operation that President Xi Jinping's administration has launched following attacks that Beijing has blamed on Islamists and separatists from Xinjiang.

Many Uighurs in Xinjiang resent what they call Chinese government restrictions on their culture, language and religion.

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