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China names eight muslim terrorists abroad on most wanted list

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Ethnic Uighurs have their bags searched
Picture: (AFP/File/Peter Parks)
Ethnic Uighurs have their bags searched in the main square in Xinjiang’s famed Silk Road city of Kashgar in China’s far northwestern, mainly Muslim Xinjiang region in August.

China today published a list of eight alleged Muslim terrorists based overseas it said had threatened the Beijing Olympics, and appealed to other countries for help in capturing them.

Chinese police released photos of the eight men, aged between 31 and 43, who were said to belong to the outlawed East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and are now believed to be living in other parts of Asia or the Middle East.

"They all took part in plotting, organising and executing various terrorist activities targeting the Beijing Olympic Games," Public Security Bureau spokesman Wu Heping told reporters as he announced the most wanted list.

The ETIM — listed by China, the United States and the United Nations as a terrorist organisation — has been striving for many years to create an independent homeland in the Muslim-populated Chinese region of Xinjiang.

Xinjiang is a vast area of mountains and deserts that borders central Asia, and many of its 8.3 million Uighurs, a Muslim minority speaking a Turkic language, say they have suffered decades of repression under communist rule.

Uighur dissidents and some human rights groups have said China has exaggerated the threat from so called terrorists in Xinjiang to justify a harsh security crackdown there.