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China executes 13 for Xinjiang 'terrorist attacks'

BEIJING--China executed 13 people Monday for “terrorist attacks” in the violence-wracked northwestern region of Xinjiang, state media said, as death sentences were issued over a suicide car crash at Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

The announcement by the official Xinhua News Agency said the 13 were involved in seven different cases connected to Xinjiang, home to militants from the mainly Muslim Uighur ethnic group blamed by Beijing for a string of attacks that have rocked China in recent months.

“In one case, three defendants were convicted of organizing and leading terrorists to attack police station, hotel, government office building and other venues, killing 24 police officers and civilians and injuring 23 others at Lukqun Township in Shanshan County of Turpan Prefecture on June 26 last year,” Xinhua said.

Xinhua did not identify the executed by name, but said “all the death penalties have been approved by the Supreme People's Court, as required in China.”

The announcement came hours after state media said three people had been sentenced to die over the Tiananmen crash last October and underscores the tough approach authorities are taking to increasingly brazen and violent incidents.

The Tiananmen attack was one of several that have rocked China since last year, and which Beijing has blamed on separatists from Xinjiang.

'Terror' Crackdown

The far-western region is the resource-rich homeland of the country's mostly Muslim Uighur minority, and periodically sees ethnic tensions and discontent with the government burst into violence.

In March a horrific knife assault at a railway station in the southern city of Kunming left 29 dead and 143 wounded.

Last month 39 people were killed, along with four attackers, and more than 90 wounded when attackers threw explosives and ploughed two off-road vehicles through a crowd at an Urumqi market.

Chinese courts, which are controlled by the ruling Communist Party and have a near-perfect conviction rate, frequently impose death sentences for terrorism offences.

The executions and sentencings are part of a crackdown that comes after Beijing vowed a yearlong campaign against terrorism in the wake of the Urumqi market attack.

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