4 on trial for 'China's 9/11' knife attack

2014-09-12 13:00

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Beijing - Four people accused of orchestrating a knife attack that killed dozens of people at a Chinese train station went on trial on Friday, a court said, in a case authorities blamed on separatists from largely Muslim Xinjiang.

The 1 March carnage in Kunming, in southwestern China, also saw more than 140 people wounded and was dubbed "China's 9/11" by state-run media.

The suspects, whose names appear to identify them as members of the Uighur minority, are accused of "leading a terrorist group" which planned and executed the attack, Kunming's Intermediate Court said on a verified microblog account.

State prosecutors said three of the suspects were arrested while attempting to cross China's border, it said.

The other accused took part in the attack, along with at least four other assailants whom police shot dead at the scene, prosecutors added.

Death penalty

Beijing blamed the attack on "separatists" from the resource-rich far western region of Xinjiang, where dozens have died in clashes between locals and security forces over the last year.

Militants from Xinjiang were also accused of organising an explosive attack in the regional capital Urumqi which killed 31 people in May, and a suicide car crash in Beijing's Tiananmen Square last year.

Rights groups blame unrest in Xinjiang on cultural and religious repression of Uighurs, who sometimes attempt to escape China and seek asylum in Southeast Asia.

China's courts have a near-100% conviction rate and the death penalty is regularly handed down in terrorism cases.

China last month announced the executions of eight people for "terrorist attacks", including three it described as "masterminding" the car crash in Tiananmen Square. That came after 13 people were executed in June for attacks in Xinjiang.

Read more on:    china

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