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China launches Xinjian crackdown


A top Communist Party of China (CPC) official has said separatists in the northwest region of Xinjiang will be dealt with "iron fists", indicating the government's intention of a crackdown to coincide with the third anniversary of deadly ethnic riots that swept the region in 2009.


The comments were made as authorities' tightened security at airports across the region.


A directive was passed that the disabled should bring hospital certificates if they want to carry mobility aids like crutches on the flight.


Nearly 200 people were killed in July 2009 as riots erupted between the majority Han Chinese and the minority Uighurs in the capital city of Urumqi.


The region has seen sporadic violence and attacks since then. Last week, six Uighur men allegedly tried to hijack a domestic flight operating in the region with crutches and material suspected to be explosives. The attempt was foiled by the passengers, crew members and policemen travelling on the flight.


The dominant Uighur, who are Turkic Muslims, accuse the government of both religions and political persecution and subverting their ethnic identity.


According to state-run Xinjua news agency, Zhang Chunxian, secretary of the Xinjiang committee of the Communist Party of China, asked the soldiers to keep vigilant against all sorts of hostile forces and to strike "three forces" -- a term for separatists, extremists, and terrorists - with "iron fists."


Zhang was addressing them after overseeing a counter-terrorism drill stages by special forces in Urumqi.


"We should leave terrorists no place to hide," Zhang was quoted as saying by local media.


The official said Xinjiang's overall situation remains stable but faces "severe challenges."


Soldiers practiced hostage-rescue and disposal of explosives in the drill.


The airport operator and airlines in China's Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region on Thursday announced security measures have been strengthened after a foiled flight hijacking last week caused nationwide concerns.


All 16 airports in Xinjiang have raised security check levels, said a spokesman of Xinjiang Airport Group Co. Ltd, the regional airport operator.


"In particular, the disabled should present hospital-issued disability certificates if they want to bring crutches or other mobility aids on board the plane. Passengers at Kashgar airport, in southern Xinjiang near Hotan, must check their crutches and wheelchairs in as baggage. The airport will provide them with mobility aids to help them get on board, said an airport official who asked not to be named," Xinhua reported.


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