China Friday launched a one-year campaign to “hunt down terrorists” in the restive Xinjiang province as the death toll in the deadly Urumqi bomb blasts rose to 39.
China has also stepped up security in Beijing and other major cities after suffering its bloodiest terror strike in Xinjiang, and said the Islamist militants who carried out the attack were influenced by terrorists from outside the country.
State-run Xinhua news agency Friday said the death toll in Thursday’s attack has risen from 31 to 39.
Over 90 people were injured in the attack at a busy market street in Urumqi when five suicide bombers driving SUVs ploughed into people, threw bombs and exploded their vehicles.
Four of the suicide bombers died and one was caught by the police, the report said. Police said two vehicles were used in the attack, but media reports said there were five.
It was by far the worst attack carried out by militants, suspected to be from the al Qaeda-backed East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), fighting for the independence of Xinjiang, where native Muslim Uygurs resent the settlements of Hans from other provinces.
To crackdown on the Islamist militants, the government launched the anti-terror campaign for a year.
It will focus on terrorists and religious extremist groups, gun and explosive manufacturing dens and terrorist training camps, Xinhua reported.
“Terrorists and extremists will be hunted down and punished,” it said.
Frequent recent terrorist violence is the most obvious and real threat to the stability of the northwestern Xinjiang province, bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Afghanistan.
Xinjiang will adopt special measures and use special means to end the violence and uproot the terrorist organisation, the report said.
The campaign will make full use of political and legal forces, army and armed police in Xinjiang. The government will prevent terrorism and extremism from spreading to other regions, it said.
Violence in the name of “jihad” has been increasing since 2009 and represents the biggest threat to the region. Some 190 terrorist attacks were recorded in Xinjiang in 2012, a significant increase from 2011, the regional public security department.
On April 30, three persons were killed and 79 injured in an attack at a railway station in Urumqi. In March, assailants killed 29 civilians and injured another 143 at a railway station in the southwestern city of Kunming.