* China leads the way in dealing with jihadist scum:
Court: Muslim militants killed 17 police in attempt to sabotage Olympics
BEIJING – A Chinese court sentenced two people to death Wednesday for what it said was attempt to sabotage the Beijing Olympics with an attack in the far-west region of Xinjiang that killed 17 police days before the games.
The Xinhua News Agency said the sentences were handed down by the Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court. It did not give any other details. Calls to the court rang unanswered Wednesday.
The Aug. 4 attack, four days before the start of the Olympics, took place in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar near the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Two men stole a truck and rammed it into a group of police on their morning jog. The men continued attacking with homemade bombs and knives, killing the officers and wounding 15 others.
“The Kashgar court said the two conducted the terrorist attack to sabotage the Beijing Olympic Games that began Aug. 8,” Xinhua reported. It identified the two as Kashgar natives, Abdurahman Azat, 33, and Kurbanjan Hemit, 28.
The two are a taxi driver and vegetable seller who were “bent on jihad”, the city’s Communist Party secretary said in August. One of the men lost his arm when he set off an explosive device during the attack.
Chinese authorities say militants among the Uighurs â€” Turkic-speaking Muslims â€” are leading a violent Islamic separatist movement in Xinjiang and are seeking to set up an independent state in the Central Asia border province.
Critics accuse Beijing of using claims of terrorism as an excuse to crack down on peaceful pro-independence sentiment and expressions of Uighur identity.
About 1.5 percent of China’s 1.3 billion people are Muslim, according to the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report. But not all of them are Uighurs or live in Xinjiang.
Wave of violence
The Aug. 4 attack was the start of a wave of violence in Xinjiang. Six days later, bombers struck in the west-central Xinjiang county of Kuqa, targeting a police station, government building, bank and shops owned by Chinese. Police said they killed 10 attackers â€” including one woman â€” while a security guard and a bystander died in the violence. State media said another attacker, a 15-year-old girl, was injured.
On Aug. 12, attackers jumped from a vehicle and stabbed civilian guards, killing three of them at a roadside checkpoint in Yamanya town, near Kashgar. The assailants escaped.
No one has claimed responsibility for any of the incidents, though government officials have suggested terrorism is behind the violence.
In November, the same Kashgar court sentenced to death five ethnic Muslims who were accused of separatist activities.