China’s top security official said a special anti-terrorism operation will begin after a third violent attack this year at a railway station occurred in Guangzhou, near the border with Hong Kong.
China must “resolutely beat the terrorists’ arrogant brazenness,” Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs and a member of the Communist Party Politburo, said at a meeting of cadres, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday. The country is on high alert after a series of violent attacks that have shaken its domestic security apparatus, with more sophisticated acts of violence blamed on ethnic Uighur separatists from restive Xinjiang province in China’s northwest.
Yesterday, six people were wounded in the knife attack in the southern city of Guangzhou, a week after three were killed and 79 hurt when assailants slashed travelers at the train station in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, on the same day that President Xi Jinping visited the city.
While China has blamed Uighur separatists seeking an independent state for the Urumqi attack and a March assault at a station in the southwestern city of Kunming that killed 29, the motive behind yesterday’s violence hasn’t been confirmed, Xinhua said. Preliminary investigations showed that only one suspect was involved in the attack, it said.
The recent attacks send a warning that China should increase its counter-terrorism awareness, an unidentified officer with the People’s Armed Police paramilitary force wrote in an opinion article for the state-run Global Times newspaper today.
“Several terrorist attacks show that although Xinjiang’s strike-hard, high pressure measures have made achievements, Xinjiang’s terrorists are more and more turning their gaze toward central China,” the person wrote. Areas with weak counter-terrorism awareness that don’t take precautions, “are likely to experience terrorist activities.”
Xi, who took the helm of a high-level Communist Party national security committee this year, spent four days in Xinjiang before the Urumqi attack meeting with local religious leaders and visiting a mosque where he removed his shoes in a sign of respect. The far western region has long been the source of simmering violence, and is home to 10 million mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uighurs, whom overseas groups say suffer regular discrimination and repression of their religion and culture.
China’s government agencies and police have become the main targets of terror attacks, the country’s first bluebook on national security published this week said, according to state media reports. Terror activities are expanding to more regions and most of the attacks in 2013 were due to religious extremists, the report said.
“The penetration of religion into modern Chinese ideology is a great security threat,” China.com.cn, an official news portal, said citing the report.