10/30/2013, 00.00
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First 'terrorist' suspects arrested over Tiananmen Square attack

For the first time the explosion of an SUVs in the heart of Beijing is described as a "terrorist attack" on state television. The police announce first arrests, but continues to look for vehicles with Xinjiang license plates. Uyghur leader calls for "calm and transparency " in investigations.

Beijing ( AsiaNews) - Chinese authorities have arrested "some suspects" believed to have been involved in the crash and subsequent explosion of an SUV in Tiananmen Square , the heart of Beijing. The explosion, defined by police for the first time as "a terrorist attack", killed 5 people, including a Chinese man from Guangdong and a Philippine doctor touring the capital, wounding at least 38. The arrests, announced on CCTV (China Central Television), occurred 10 hours after the incident.

According to a police statement, seven of wanted persons come from the autonomous region of Xinjiang , home to the Uyghur minority, Turkish-speaking Muslims , who denounce a strict linguistic , cultural and religious repression by the Chinese central government .

The eighth is reportedly Han (ethnic majority in China ) and comes from the Sichuan province in the southwest of the country, but is resident in Xinjiang. The age of the suspects range from 21 to 70 years. Investigators are also looking for five vehicles with license plate from Xinjiang , including a motorcycle : the police have ordered mechanics and auto-repair shops to report "every car with these details".  Check points have also been set up at airports, with passengers travelling to Urumqi - the provincial capital - being questioned for hours by the security forces .

The World Uyghur Congress , an organization that brings together the ethnic diaspora led by Rebiya Kadeer , call for "calm and transparency" during the investigation . Kadeer, who was deputy to the Chinese people's National Assembly for years and is now in exile, added : "I fear now more than ever for the fate of my people . Beijing will not hesitate to use this tragedy to crush Xinjiang even more" .



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