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China Sentences Three People to Death for Tiananmen Crash

Police cars block off the roads leading into Tiananmen Square as smoke rises into the air after a vehicle crashed in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on October 28, 2013. Photographer: STR/AFP via Getty Images
Police cars block off the roads leading into Tiananmen Square as smoke rises into the air after a vehicle crashed in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on October 28, 2013. Photographer: STR/AFP via Getty Images

June 17 (Bloomberg) -- A Chinese court sentenced three people to death after convicting them of planning a fatal car crash near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square last year that was blamed on separatist terrorists, China Central Television said.

A court in Urumqi, the capital of western China’s Xinjiang region, also jailed five others for the Oct. 28 crash that killed two tourists and injured dozens more, CCTV reported yesterday. They were convicted of organizing a terrorist attack and harming public security.

The attackers were linked to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement because the movement’s flags were found in the jeep, according to earlier state media reports. The court ruled they had collaborated with the three assailants -- the driver, his wife and mother -- who crashed into a crowd, killing themselves and tourists from the Philippines and southern China.

President Xi Jinping is cracking down on terrorists, with police blaming Muslim separatists from Xinjiang’s 10 million-strong ethnic Uighur population for a spate of deadly bomb and knife attacks at crowded public places across the country. At least 31 people died last month when two vehicles packed with explosives plowed into a market in Urumqi, indicating a rise in the cycle of violence in the province.

Xinjiang has acted against nine terrorist groups and one extreme religious group based on tips from locals in a campaign that started May 23, the People’s Daily reported yesterday, without citing anyone. More than 60 suspects were detained and at least 160 explosive devices seized by police, it said.

13 Executions

China yesterday executed 13 people involved in seven cases involving terrorist attacks and violent crimes in Xinjiang, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing local courts in the region’s Aksu, Turpan and Hotan prefectures.

In one case, three people were convicted of organizing and leading terrorists to attack facilities in Lukqun in Shanshan county on June 26, Xinhua said. The assault killed 24 police officers and civilians, it said.

Authorities have appealed for the public to report their suspicious behavior. China’s top security official said on May 7 that a special anti-terrorism operation was starting after a third violent attack this year at a railway station occurred in Guangzhou, near the border with Hong Kong.

On June 15, Chinese police stopped three knife-wielding attackers in Hetian city, Xinjiang, killing two and injuring one, according to a statement posted to Xjht.gov.cn, the official website of the local government.

The Munich-based World Uyghur Congress has accused Xi, who helms a body overseeing security in Xinjiang, of inciting the armed forces to suppress Uighurs, who have long faced restrictions on their culture and religious practices.

To contact the reporter on this story: Neil Western in Hong Kong at nwestern@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net Andrew Davis, Joshua Fellman

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