MOSCOW, July 1 (RIA Novosti) – Islamic militants, battle-hardened in Syria, were behind two terrorist attacks that left dozens dead in a northwest Chinese province, in which separatists have wanted to establish a sovereign state of “East Turkestan,” a Chinese news agency reported Monday.
About a hundred militants associated with the group behind the attacks went to Syria via Turkey to fight alongside rebel forces battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, China’s The Global Times reported, citing an unnamed anti-terrorism official.
They went there “to overcome their fears, improve their fighting skills and gain experience in carrying out terror attacks,” the official was quoted as saying.
The two terrorist attacks in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, claimed the lives of 35 people, including policemen and civilians. The province, which borders Central Asia, is home to 10 million Muslim Uighurs.
The attacks came several days ahead of the fourth anniversary of the July 5 riot in the provincial capital of Urumqi that saw Uighurs pitted against ethnic Chinese in a deadly clash that left nearly 200 people killed.
China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and together with Russia it has vetoed sanctions against the ruling regime in Syria.