China's anti-terrorist commando forces held a public demo in the volatile Xinjiang province to shore up public confidence shaken by militant attacks in two different cities, even as the last "rioter" behind the deadly clashes that killed 35 people was caught today.
"Police in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Sunday captured the only rioter at large after a violent terrorist attack," state-run Xinhua news agency said. The captured man is identified as Yiblayan Eli, a member of the 17-member gang behind the attack in Lukqun Township in Shanshan County in the region's Turpan Prefecture, a Xinjiang police statement said.
The gang, formed by religious extremists and led by Ahmatniyaz Sidiq, had raised funds, purchased knives and gasoline and researched the sites since mid-June to prepare for the attacks, the statement said.
Fearing their plot might be revealed after one gangster was arrested on Tuesday, 16 rioters attacked the township's police stations, a local government building, a construction site, a private store and a hair salon on Wednesday and set police cars afire, the report said.
A number of people including two police officers, were killed by the knife-wielding rioters. Among the victims, 16 were from the Uygur ethnic group. Twenty-one police officers and civilians were also injured in the attack.
While Xinhua put the toll around 24, a report in the state-run Global Times said 35 people were killed in the violence.
The police shot and killed 11 rioters and captured another four who were injured at the scene, while one managed to escape.
Meanwhile, reports say China poured security forces beefing security in the region to prevent riots from spreading.
Yu Zhengsheng, member of the influential Standing Committee of ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) who visited the province, said China will strike hard on violent terrorist attacks according to law and maintain social stability in Xinjiang which was hit by violent terrorist attacks in the past few days.
Yu, leading a work team, arrived in provincial capital Urumqi yesterday after President Xi Jinping presided over a meeting of the Standing Committee the highest policy body of the country and reviewed security measures.
China will impose severe punishment on those taking part in violent crimes, Yu said at a meeting attended by officials from across Xinjiang.
"We will step up actions to crack down upon terrorist groups and extremist organisations and track the wanted," Yu said. Muslim ethnic Uygurs oppose the expanding settlements of the majority mainland Han Chinese in parts of Xinjiang.
Xinjiang has achieved sound economic development in recent years, but separatists in and outside the country have been escalating their efforts and those deep-seated problems challenging Xinjiang's social stability have not been completely solved, Yu said.
A few criminals have continuously masterminded and conducted violent terrorist attacks, causing serious losses to the lives and properties of the public, he said, slamming the attacks as "key threats to national unity and social stability in Xinjiang."
Safety precautions must be taken, especially for key areas and institutions, he said, calling for efforts to mobilise the public and CPC members.
He also said authoritative information on the attacks should be released in a timely manner, and efforts must be taken to promote China's ethnic and religious policies as well as laws and regulations.
Also at the meeting, Meng Jianzhu, secretary of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, made detailed anti-terror arrangements in Xinjiang. Meng said the recent violent terrorist attacks have revealed the anti-human nature of the terrorists, who are the common enemy of all ethnic groups.
Law enforcement agencies should severely crack down on violent terrorist activities, with precautionary and preemptive measures, to guarantee social stability in Xinjiang, Meng said. There are no detailed reports yet of what happened in Xinjiang which has been witnessing periodic but heavy violence since 2009 riots between native Uygur Muslims and ethnic Chinese Han settlers from mainland.
China blames East Turkistan Islamic Movement, (ETIM), stated to be an arm of AlQeda for carrying out separatist attacks in the province bordering Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, (PoK) and Afghanistan.
The recent violent terror attacks brought severe harm to life and property of local people and social stability in Xinjiang, Meng said, calling on the armed police forces to resolutely implement the CPC decision to give a hard strike on criminals.