BEIJING: China recorded nearly 200 “terrorist” attacks in the far western region of Xinjiang last year, state media reported Monday, underscoring heightened tensions in the area which is home to Muslim Uighurs.
Violent assaults in the name of “jihad” have been increasing rapidly since 2009 and had become the biggest threat to the region, the Oriental Outlook magazine said, citing local police authorities.
Several deadly incidents have occurred in Xinjiang this year and the Chinese government has blamed a fiery attack a month ago in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on “terrorists” from the area.
The incident left two tourists dead and 40 other people injured, with the three attackers dying after they set their vehicle ablaze.
Beijing has pointed to violent incidents in Xinjiang as evidence of rising extremism among the Uighur ethnic minority.
But information in the region is tightly controlled, and Uighur organisations complain of cultural and religious repression.
The Shanghai-based weekly, which is owned by the official Xinhua news agency, said more than 190 “terrorist” attacks were logged in Xinjiang last year, increasing “by a significant margin” from 2011.
Most of the attackers were in their early 30s or younger and increasingly act in small groups or individually as “a lone wolf”, it added.
A militant Islamist organisation has said the Tiananmen incident, in the symbolic heart of the Chinese state, was a “jihadi operation” and predicted more violence, according to the US-based monitoring group SITE.
It was unclear whether the statement included an explicit claim of responsibility.