China Sends Anti-Terror Snow Leopard Commando Unit To Restive Xinjiang

BEIJING — China has deployed an elite police counter-terrorism unit to
the restive northwest region of Xinjiang after a series of deadly
attacks there, state media reported Saturday.

The Snow Leopard Commando unit is expected to carry out “anti-terrorist
missions” in Kashgar and Hotan, which were hit by the recent violence,
the China Daily newspaper quoted a spokesman for the region’s police
force as saying.

The unit is an elite counter-terrorism group under the People’s Armed
Force whose responsibilities include riot control and bomb disposal as
well as reacting to hijacks.

The elite unit’s presence in Xinjiang was to secure the region after
last month’s attacks and ahead of a trade convention next month, the
police spokesman added, but did not give details of the size of the
deployment.

Xinjiang has seen several outbreaks of ethnic violence in recent years
as the mainly Muslim Uighur minority bridles under what it regards as
oppression by the government and the unwanted immigration of ethnic Han
Chinese.

Tensions boiled over again in July when two knife attacks as well as
clashes between Uighurs and police killed more than 30 people in the
resource-rich and strategically vital region.

Officials and state media have blamed the unrest on “terrorists” but
some experts say the government has produced little evidence of an
organised terrorist threat, adding the violence stems more from
long-standing local resentment.

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AFP