Still reeling from an earlier attack that left dozens injured, China’s restive Xinjiang region has been hit yet again. This time, car bombs were used to detonate in a crowded market place, leaving at least 31 dead. The attack came in spite of government efforts to crack down on violence in the region. This marks the second bloody attack in the last month.
Separatists likely behind the attack
The attacks were likely carried out by Uighur separatists who have been waging a war with the national government for decades. The Soviet Union backed a rebellion and the self-declared Second East Turkistan Republic in the 1940’s before China was able to reassert control over the region. Still, many separatists refuse to abandon the idea of a separate state.
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Xinjiang is now China’s largest administration region and is considered an autonomous region, enjoying some extended freedoms from the national government. Regardless of this extra freedom, separatists want to see the region granted full independence.
Most of the separatists appear to be from the Uighur ethnic group, which is spread across Central Asia. The Uighur are a primarily Muslim ethnic group. Most of the attacks are being directed against the Han ethnic group, which is the dominant ethnic group in China.
China attack one of the most violent yet
Reportedly, two vehicles rammed into numerous people in an open air market in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region. Once coming to a stop, several explosives were hurled from the vehicles, which then detonated. At least 31 people have been confirmed killed and another 90 injured, though the death toll may rise as the dust settles.
While separatists have been carrying out attacks on the government for decades, civilians have rarely been the primary target. The most recent attack marks the second attack in the last month aimed directly at civilian targets. Now, the terrorist attacks amount to more than their death tolls, they are a direct defiance to Beijing’s authority and challenge the national government’s control of the region.
Chinese President Xi has promised to crack down on terrorism and has made it clear that the central government will entertain no thoughts of granting the region independence. With the mainland government struggling to keep Xinjiang and Tibet in line, while trying to bring rebel province Taiwan back into the fold, the government is unlikely to make any concessions.