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China smashes 181 Muslim gangs in anti-terrorism crackdown


Chinese authorities say they have broken up 181 violent terrorist groups in the northwestern region of Xinjiang — and that they are making progress in winning public support for their crackdown on terrorism and Islamic extremism in the region, which has been hit by Muslim violence in recent years.

The crackdown was launched in May of last year after attackers threw explosives into a crowded street market in the region’s capital, Urumqi, killing 39 people. It followed several attacks in public places around China, which authorities said were the work of Islamic separatist groups from Xinjiang.

Among these attacks was one in which 31 people were stabbed to death at a railway station in the southwestern city of Kunming. Xinjiang itself saw several other major attacks last year, including one in July on government buildings in Yarkant county, near the western city of Kashgar, where police said they shot dead 59 terrorists, while 37 civilians were killed.

There also was a series of bomb attacks in Luntai county in September, when six civilians were reported killed, along with 40 terrorists.

Now Xinjiang authorities say their crackdown is yielding results: By the end of April, local officials told Chinese media, 181 groups had been broken up, all but a handful of them (less than 4 percent) before they had chances to carry out any attacks. The reports did not give figures


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