Xinjiang commander loses job after Tiananmen Square attack
Press Trust of India
Beijing, 3 November
China has sacked a top army commander in the restive Xinjiang region and expelled him from the ruling Communist Party following the Tiananmen Square suicide attack here blamed on Islamist militants.
General Peng Yong was dismissed from his post as a member of the Standing Committee of the Party in the Muslim Uyghur-majority Xinjiang after a two-year tenure, the state-run Xinjiang Daily reported.
The daily did not give a reason for Peng’s removal.
Eight militants including Usmen Hasan who along with wife and mother were killed in the suicide attack at the Forbidden City on 28 October hailed from Xinjiang.
Five others were arrested by police for the incident, described by the state media as China’ 9/11 equating it the deadly terror attacks in the US in 2001.
The militants drove a Sports Utility Vehicle almost close to the highly guarded entrance of the historic Forbidden City overlooking the Tiananmen Square and set it on fire.
While police calls it suicide attack, few details were released about what exactly happened there.
The three militants along with two tourists were killed and 40 others injured in the incident.
This is the first time militants, reportedly members of the banned East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), attempted an attack outside the Xinjiang province bordering Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Afghanistan.
Separately China has called on the members of the six member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to put up a united front against the ETIM, which China alleges as terrorist outfit fighting for the independence of Xinjiang.
Chinese Interior Ministry officials also held talks with Pakistan Army Chief, Gen Ashfaq Kayani when he visited Beijing few days.
Xinjiang has been witnessing deadly violence since the past few years after the riots due to unrest among the Uyghur community over the increasing settlements of members of Han community, which is deeply resented by locals. Though the province witnessed lot of development based on its large natural resource base, Uyghurs allege that much of the benefits were garnered by Hans under active patronage of the state.
Security has also been beefed up in Beijing as the local Communist Party Chief Guo Jinlong has called for enhanced capacity to prevent the Chinese capital from terrorist attacks after a car crash in Tiananmen Square killed five people and injured another 40.
During a two-day inspection tour starting 1 November Guo asked police and security forces to “look for vulnerable links” and “learn a lesson” from the Tiananmen attack, the Beijing Daily said today.
Guo, stressed the importance of quick response to emergencies and asked police and security forces to raise their awareness in countering terrorism and violence.
Police are asked to strengthen security in key areas, enhance their capacity to collect intelligence and take precautions against terrorist attacks, the newspaper reported.
Authorities in downtown districts are required to strengthen urban management, crack down on violations of laws and regulations, and improve management of rented housing, small and medium-sized inns and floating population.