Chinese authorities declared Wednesday that the fiery vehicle crash in Tiananmen Square this week was a deliberate terrorist attack and said five men have been arrested for allegedly helping to plan it, The Washington Post’s William Wan reports.
Authorities in Beijing have thrown a tight security cordon around Tiananmen Square following a fatal jeep crash, as reports emerged of a possible connection to the restive western region of Xinjiang, also known as East Turkistan.
Exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer (right) said that she was worried that Monday’s crash would precipitate a crackdown on her people, Reuters reports:
Kadeer, who left China in 2005, heads the World Uighur Congress, based in Germany. Her group urged calm and voiced concern that Chinese censorship would stop facts from coming out.
Kadeer said China has used the international fight against terrorism launched after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States as a pretext for a crackdown on the Uighurs in Xinjiang.
“There is no sign we will see anything different this time, even though evidence of what really happened yesterday is thin on the ground,” she said in a statement from Washington
“There are extreme worries over the fate of Uighur people,” said Dilshat Rexit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, an exile group which Beijing has condemned as separatist, after news of the detentions emerged.
“The Beijing incident is an excuse for repressing Xinjiang,” he said in a statement. “China is increasing its surveillance of Uighur students and business people, and has instituted discriminatory policies sending people back to Xinjiang.
“According to local sources, 93 Uighur people have been arrested in Beijing, the secret service is carrying out checks, and has provided no reasons for the arrests.”