08/04/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Xinjiang, sixteen dead in a terrorist attack by Muslim separatists

This morning two grenades hit a check point on the North West frontier, a majority Muslim area theatre of violence in the past weeks. The news was reported by the state agency Xinhua, but AFP sources fail to confirm the episode.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The death toll from a morning attack on a border crossing in Muslim majority Xinjiang, North West China, is 16 dead and a further 16 wounded.

According to the state news agency Xinhua (New China), at 8 am local time two attackers drove their truck into Kashgar border crossing, exploding two grenades.  Xinhua sources report that the attackers were arrested and have confirmed that this mornings attack was of a terrorist nature.  Initially the official agency reported two trucks involved in the episode, later confirming that one truck was used, but no further details have since been provided regarding the motives for the attack.

French press agency AFP reports that a police spokesperson in Urumqi – the capital of Xinjiang autonomous region – has stated that they are “unaware of an explosion having taken place in the zone”, refusing to confirm Xinhua reports.

The presumed episode took place just four days ahead of the official opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympic Games, ahead of which the Chinese government has repeatedly warned of possible attacks: a move that has allowed authorities to crack down even further on security across the country.  According to colonel Tian Yixiang, chief of security for the Games, the greatest threat is presented by the Muslim separatists headed by a terrorist organisation from East Turkestan. China has called in reinforcements to ensure security throughout the Olympics: joining the police who patrol the territory on a daily basis are 34 thousand soldiers, 121 planes and helicopters and 33 naval vessels along the coast.

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