World News

China's Xinjiang sets up legal team to prosecute terror cases

BEIJING (Reuters) - Prosecutors in China’s violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang have set up a special team to handle terror-related cases, state news agency Xinhua said on Friday.

Hundreds of people have been killed in recent years in resource-rich Xinjiang, on the borders of central Asia, in violence between the Muslim Uighur people who call the region home and ethnic majority Han Chinese.

The government has blamed the unrest on Islamist militants, though rights groups and exiles say anger at Chinese controls on the religion and culture of Uighurs is more to blame for the unrest. China denies any repression in Xinjiang.

The team will consist of 30 prosecutors in six parts of Xinjiang including Kashgar and Hotan, deep in southern Xinjiang’s Uighur heartland, as well as regional capital Urumqi, Xinhua said.

These are all “important regions for targeting terrorism”, the news agency quoted Guo Lianshan, Xinjiang’s deputy chief prosecutor, as saying.

Attackers drove a vehicle into a government building in southern Xinjiang this week, setting off an explosive device and using knives to kill two people before all three of the assailants were shot dead.

Up to then, Xinjiang had generally been quiet this year, with no major attacks reported.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel