China Probes Xinjiang Connection To Tiananmen Car Deaths

by
Reuters
Chinese police are looking for two suspects from its restive Xinjiang region in connection with a "major incident", after five people were killed and dozens injured when a car ploughed into pedestrians and caught fire in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Chinese police are looking for two suspects from its restive Xinjiang region in connection with a "major incident", after five people were killed and dozens injured when a car ploughed into pedestrians and caught fire in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Police in the capital are asking local hotels about suspicious guests who had checked in since Oct 1 and named two suspects it said were from Xinjiang in a notice issued on Monday night, four hotels told Reuters.

Judging by their names, the suspects appeared to be ethnic Uighurs, who are Turkic-speaking Muslims from Xinjiang, a province in the far west of China. Many Uighurs chafe at Chinese controls on their culture and religion.

"To prevent the suspected persons and vehicles from committing further crimes ... please notify law enforcement of any discovery of clues regarding these suspects and the vehicles," said the notice, which was widely circulated on Chinese microblogs.

The notice also listed four car licence plates from Xinjiang.

Beijing police, contacted by telephone, declined to comment.

Calls to the Xinjiang government went unanswered.

Police said on Monday that the car veered off the road at the north of the square, a major tourist attraction, crossed the barriers and caught fire almost directly in front of the main entrance of the Forbidden City, in front of a huge portrait of the founder of Communist China, Mao Zedong.

The three people in the car died, as well as two tourists.

China says it grants Uighurs wide-ranging freedoms and accuses extremists of separatism.

Many rights groups say China has long overplayed the threat posed to justify its tough controls in energy-rich Xinjiang, which lies strategically on the borders of Central Asia, India and Pakistan.