China continues its crackdown heading up to the Olympics.
BEIJING – China has executed two ethnic Uighur men and imprisoned another 15 for alleged terrorist links, a U.S-funded radio station reported Saturday.
Radio Free Asia reported that the Kashgar Intermediate Court in the restive western region of Xinjiang sentenced two men to death on Wednesday and then executed them after the public trial in Yengi Sheher county, citing Uighur sources and a local official. The men were identified as Mukhtar Setiwaldi and Abduweli Imin.
Three other Uighurs were given two-year suspended death sentences while the remaining men were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 10 years to life, the radio quoted the sources saying.
Western Xinjiang is home to the minority Uigur ethnic group, and Uighur extremists have waged a low-intensity struggle against Chinese rule for decades.
The U.S. government-funded RFA said the 17 men were charged as members of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a militant separatist group that Beijing, as well as Washington, claims has links to al-Qaida.
An official who answered the phone at the Kashgar court confirmed that multiple sentences, including “two or three” executions, were handed down during trials on July 9, but he had no details about what the men were charged with or whether they were linked to terrorist activities. He would not give his name.
Earlier this week, Chinese police shot dead five people who were alleged to be members of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and were accused of planning a “holy war,” official state media said.
The police raid Tuesday in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, left two other members of the group hospitalized. Eight others were taken into custody, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
China has said that the biggest threat for next month’s Olympics is a terrorist attack. It has mobilized a 100,000-strong anti-terrorism force.
With the games just weeks away, Chinese officials are ordering increasingly draconian security measures, with a dual ring of hundreds of checkpoints due to go up around Beijing starting next week.