China arrests more terrorism suspects

Police have arrested all 19 suspects in connection with a deadly clash that began after authorities saw terrorists making explosives in China's western region of Xinjiang, propaganda officials and state media reported.

A total of 21 people died in last Tuesday's violence in a town near Kashgar city. It was the highest death toll for a single incident in months in Xinjiang, which sees recurrent violence pitting members of the Turkic Muslim Uighur group against the authorities and majority ethnic Han Chinese migrants. Beijing says China faces an organized terrorist threat from radical Muslim groups in the region.

Those killed were 15 police officers and community workers and six assailants, according to Xinjiang's propaganda office. Authorities described the gang as terrorists.

Eight suspects were taken into custody after the clash and state media and a local government said Monday that a further 11 had been captured.

A statement posted on a website run by the Xinjiang regional government's propaganda office on Monday said the 19 suspects belonged to a terrorist group founded in September whose members regularly watched video clips advocating religious extremism and terrorism and attended illegal preaching ceremonies.

Citing police, the statement said the group had planned to carry out a major attack in densely populated areas of Kashgar in the summer, and were seen making explosives on April 23 by local police and community workers, which led to the clash.

Meng Hongwei, the vice public security minister, was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying authorities had discovered a stash of homemade explosives, "lethal weapons," and flags promoting the independence of Xinjiang, referred to by Uighur activists as East Turkistan.

Xinhua said Meng vowed an "iron-handed crackdown against terrorism," saying police would use "every possible means to find and punish terrorists with no mercy."

Also Monday, China Central Television broadcast images of a memorial service for the police and officials killed in the clash. It said Meng attended the service, along with more than 1,000 people from local party and government departments.

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