Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chinese militants have ties to Pakistan terror groups, official says

From FOX News:

Chinese militants have ties to Pakistan terror groups, official says

Published March 07, 2012
| The Wall Street Journal
BEIJING -- A senior Chinese official Wednesday alleged that militants in northwestern China have deep-seated ties to Pakistan-based terror groups, an unusually explicit accusation that could put strains on the relationship between Beijing and its most important regional ally.
Nur Bekri, the top government official in China's northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, said Chinese officials believe the Pakistani government opposes recent attacks directed at China. Nonetheless, the comments during a high-profile legislative session suggest growing concern over Islamabad's inability to fight terrorism.
Some ethnic Uighurs have waged a long and bloody campaign for independence from China. Beijing has long accused Uighur separatists of being part of the East Turkestan Islamic
Movement, known as ETIM, which it says has ties to al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
"We have discovered some East Turkestan activists and terrorists from our neighboring country have countless links," Bekri said during a meeting in Beijing of the National People's Congress, China's once-a-year legislative body.
He added that Pakistan itself is an "all-weather friend" of China, echoing previous remarks from Chinese officials.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry and military officials could not be reached for comment. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a previous statement that it would continue to support China in fighting the ETIM.
Bekri's comments follow earlier claims in August by the city government of Kashgar, in far western Xinjiang, that suspected assailants there had received explosives and weapons training in terrorist camps across the border in Pakistan.
Analysts have said the increasingly public accusations suggest Beijing is either unhappy with Islamabad's counterterrorism efforts or is keen to show that attacks in Xinjiang originated abroad.
China has emerged as one of Pakistan's staunchest defenders in recent years, and a critical supplier of civilian and military aid, particularly as its ties with Washington have soured.
At the same time, accusations by Chinese officials over Xinjiang militants' ties to Pakistan echo previous claims by India and Afghanistan, which have both criticized Pakistan for failing to take aggressive enough action against terrorist groups there.
At a daily press briefing Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin praised Islamabad's counterterrorism efforts.
"Pakistan is at the forefront of the international campaign against terrorism and has sacrificed a lot," Liu said. "We believe the international community should speak highly of Pakistan's efforts in fighting terrorism."

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