China shuts 41 mosques in Xinjiang, arrests 82 suspected terrorists

Times of India

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BEIJING: Chinese authorities have replaced top police and security officials in the Muslim dominated Xinjiang province, which is the hotbed of separatism and political violence. They have also closed down 41 “illegal” places of worship. 

These places of worship were used as training ground for conducting a “holy war”, Chen Zhuangwei Chen, the police chief of Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang province, said. Xinjiang, which borders central Asia and Pakistan, has been the scene of a pro-independence movement by a section of the eight million Uighurs living there for a long time. 

* Chinese police gun down 5 rebels from Uighur region

The authorities also announced they have detained 82 “suspected terrorists” in the past six months in view of fears that they might disrupt the Olympic Games. They belong to five groups that “allegedly plotted sabotage against the Beijing Olympics”, the official Xinhua news agency quoted the police chief in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, as saying. 

The government has annouced the replacement of army and security officials in the ranks of three deputy core commanders, political commissars and the head of the Communist Party organisation department in the army. The replacement suggests that the central government has been unhappy about the inability of local officials to put down the surging separatist movement in the province. 

The new head of the organisation department is Liu Xiang Song, the government announced. One of the three new core commanders is Hanabati Sabukhaya, an officer from the Kazak race. Xinjiang borders Kazakisthan and several other countries including Pakistan and Russia. “From now, all police officers must act urgently, get involved once more in Olympic security, to make sure large and small incidents alike do not happen,” Chen was quoted by official media as saying. 

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