Xinjiang Attacks: Two Suspects Found and Killed by Chinese Police

( [email protected] ) Aug 03, 2011 09:17 AM EDT

Chinese government officials confirmed this morning that the two major suspects from the attacks this past weekend, which left up to 18 people dead in its Xinjiang region, have been captured and killed.

The suspects, Memtieli Tiliwaldi and Turson Hasan, both ethnic Uyghurs, had been linked to the East Turkistan Islamist Movement (ETIM) and were found hiding in a corn field in the outskirts of Kashgar.

The suspects were executed immediately, reports have said.

City authorities have argued that ETIM is an Islamic group that seeking Xinjiang's independence and have accused them of carrying out the attacks this past weekend.

Furthermore, officials have suggested that based upon preliminary investigations, ETIM was receiving training and arms in Pakistan.

Pakistan has condemned the attacks, pledging its support to combat terrorism and the ETIM movement within China.

The attacks happened over the weekend in the city of Kashgar with one restaurant in the central square of the city having been hit with an explosion while bystanders were randomly attacked with knives.

Two men also hijacked a truck and drove it into a crowd of people killing 8 and wounding 28 people.

The attacks came on the heels of a riot that took place two weeks ago in the region where 18 people were killed by Chinese security forces.

Xinjiang, the largest region of China and home to China's largest Muslim population, the Uyghurs, has seen a pattern of ethnic violence for years now and has been under tight security since the 2009 Urumqi riots when violence between Muslim Uyghurs and Han Chinese killed close to 200 people.

China maintains strict religious and cultural controls in the region and more recently Uyghurs have been angered by increased migration into the region by ethnic Han, arguing that the increase in Han Chinese is leading to further marginalization and economic discrimination against them.

Rebiyah Kadeer, the President of the World Uyghur Congress, said in a statement to Reuters, "I am saddened that Han Chinese and Uyghurs have lost their lives. At the same time, I cannot blame the Uyghurs who carry out such attacks for they have been pushed to despair by Chinese polices. I condemn the Chinese government for the incident."

The Uyghur American Association also released a statement in which they expressed fears that ethnic Uyghurs could potentially face arbitrary detention and torture following the attacks.

Chinese authorities have said that they will crackdown on “illegal religious activities.”

The events of this past weekend bring up an important discussion in China about ethnic and religious diversity and minority populations. Although China has a predominately Han Chinese population, minority groups in China often express feelings of oppression and social marginalization.