China detains 82 Muslims, wrongly accusing as terrorists

China detains 82 Muslims

wrongly accusing as terrorists

AFP

BEIJING (AFP) – Chinese police have this year detained 82 suspected terrorists in the nation’s Muslim-populated far northwest who were planning to attack the Beijing Olympics, state media reported on Thursday.

The 82 belonged to five groups that “allegedly plotted sabotage against the Beijing Olympics,” Xinhua news agency reported, citing the head of the police in Urumqi, the capital of remote Xinjiang region that borders central Asia.

It was the first time that Chinese officials had given a total number of suspects detained in a series of raids this year.

The announcement came a day after state press said police shot dead five Muslims who allegedly wanted to launch a “holy war”.

Exiled members of Xinjiang’s Turkic-speaking Uighur population have denied that such a terrorist threat exists in the region.

They have accused the Chinese government of exaggerating or fabricating the threat as an excuse to crack down on all forms of dissent ahead of next month’s Games.

Urumqi police chief Chen Zhuangwei however insisted that the terrorist threat was very real, reportedly saying that 41 illegal places of worship in Xinjiang had been closed because they were training grounds for “holy war”.

“From now, all police officers must act urgently, get involved once more in Olympic security, to make sure huge and small incidents alike do not happen,” Chen said, according to the Xinjiang Daily newspaper.

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