Kyrgyzstan blames Chinese embassy attack on Uygur jihadis

Authorities in Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday blamed Uygur jihadis in Syria for masterminding a suicide attack against the Chinese embassy in the Central Asian country.

A van exploded after ramming through a gate at China’s diplomatic outpost in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek on August 30, killing the driver and injuring three local embassy employees.

The Kyrgyz national security committee said in a statement that investigations had shown the “instigators” were “Uygur terrorist groups acting in Syria”, pointing the finger of blame at radicals from the mostly Muslim Chinese minority.

Bishkek bomb cloud casts a shadow over China’s interests abroad

The alleged suicide bomber was an ethnic Uygur with a passport from ex-Soviet Tajikistan who was a member of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) group in Syria, the statement said.

Five suspects accused of involvement in the attack had been arrested and four more suspected of being in Turkey had been put on the wanted list, the authorities said.

Xinjiang – the homeland of China’s 10 million Uygurs, just across the border from Kyrgyzstan – is sporadically hit by deadly violence.

Uygur factor keeps Kyrgyzstan on Beijing’s radar

China has accused what it says are exiled Uygur separatist groups such as the ETIM of being behind attacks in the volatile region.

Chinese authorities have also accused scores of Uygurs who have fled the country of attempting to train with extremists in Syria, saying that they plan to return to Xinjiang to wage jihad.

But many experts doubt the existence of ETIM, pointing out that although China frequently blames the group for radicalising Uygurs, it has yet to provide any evidence that outside organisations were involved in attacks.

Impoverished majority-Muslim Kyrgyzstan has a history of political instability and battling Islamist extremism.

As China expands trade ties in Central Asia, it also needs to boost security for diplomatic missions

Chinese officials in the country have previously been targeted in attacks blamed on Uygur radicals.

Authorities say the country faces the threat of attacks by the Islamic State group, after some 500 Kyrgyz left to fight for the jihadis in Iraq and Syria.

One of the three suicide bombers who carried out a deadly attack blamed on Islamic State at the airport in Istanbul in June was reported to be from Kyrgyzstan.

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