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Several government departments in Chinese region of Xinjiang have banned Muslim staff from fasting during the month of Ramadan.
One department website said that civil servants cannot “take part in fasting and other religious activities”.
The move comes amid tightened security in the region which has been hit by a growing number of violent attacks.
Authorities blame separatist Muslim Uighurs, but Uighur leaders deny they are behind the attacks.
China restricted Ramadan fasting for Xinjiang’s officials
Activists have accused Beijing of exaggerating the threat from Uighur separatists to justify a crackdown on the Uighurs’ religious and cultural freedoms.
State-administered Bozhou Radio and TV University said on its website that the fasting ban applied to party members, teachers and young people.
“We remind everyone that they are not permitted to observe a Ramadan fast,” it said.
Similarly a weather bureau in western Xinjiang was reported by the AFP news agency to have said on its website that the ban was “in accordance with instructions from higher authorities”.
With Beijing blaming extremist Uighurs for growing violence, the ban is likely to be seen by many Muslims as an attack on their religion, further increasing tensions.
Among those imposing a ban are a commercial affairs department and a government hospital which got Muslim staff to sign a written pledge that they would not fast.
State-run newspapers have in addition been running editorials warning about the health dangers of fasting.
Many Uighurs say that the suppression of their cultural and religious freedoms is fuelling the unrest in the region and attacks elsewhere in China.
Last month 13 assailants were killed in an attack on a police station in the restive province.
Police officers have killed 13 assailants in an attack on a police station in China’s restive western province of Xinjiang, officials say.
The attackers drove a car into the station and set off explosives on Saturday morning, the local government said on its website.
Police officers have killed 13 assailants in an attack on a police station in China’s restive western province of Xinjiang
Three police suffered minor injuries but no civilians were hurt, it added.
The Chinese authorities blame Muslim Uighurs from Xinjiang for an increasing number of attacks in the province.
“On the morning of June 21, a group of thugs drove a car into a police building in Yecheng County, Kashgar province and detonated explosives,” the local government website said.
“Police shot dead the 13 attackers,” it reported. It provided no further details.
Verifying reports from the Xinjiang region is difficult because access for journalists is restricted and the flow of information is tightly controlled.
The authorities have tightened security in Xinjiang in recent months.
On Monday, China executed 13 people in Xinjiang for what it called “terrorist attacks”.
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Thirteen people have been executed for “terrorist attacks” in Xinjiang province, western China, state media say.
The 13 – who reportedly include Muslim ethnic Uighurs – were accused over seven cases including attacks in June 2013 that killed 24 people.
It comes as three other men – who reports say also appear to be Uighurs – were sentenced over a fatal car crash in Beijing last year.
Beijing has blamed Uighur groups for several attacks across the country.
Those executed on Monday had been charged with crimes including “participating in terrorist groups; murder; arson; theft; and illegal manufacture, storage and transportation of explosives”, state-run news agency Xinhua said.
Thirteen people have been executed for terrorist attacks in Xinjiang province
The report named three defendants who were convicted of attacking a police station, hotel, government building and other venues in Lukqun, Xinjiang province, on June 26.
The attack killed 24 police officers and civilians and injured 23 others, Xinhua added.
Verifying reports from the Xinjiang region is difficult because the flow of information is tightly controlled.
Also on Monday, three men were given death sentences in connection with a crash in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square last October, when a car ploughed into a crowd.
Two tourists and three people in the car were killed. Dozens of others were injured.
Xinhua news agency said Husanjan Wuxur, Yusup Umarniyaz and Yusup Ahmat were guilty of “organizing and leading a terrorist group and endangering public security”.
Five others were given jail sentences.
Reports said several of those sentenced or executed on Monday appeared to be from Xinjiang’s Uighur ethnic minority, based on their names.
Beijing has blamed Uighur separatists for a string of attacks around China, including deadly bomb and knife attacks on railway stations in Urumqi in Xinjiang, and Kunming in south-west China.
Uighur leaders deny that they are coordinating a terrorist campaign.
Activists have accused Beijing of exaggerating the threat from Uighur separatists in order to justify a crackdown on the Uighurs’ religious and cultural freedoms.
Correspondents say Uighurs, who number around 9 million, have long complained of repression under Chinese rule – an accusation Beijing denies.
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At least 31 people have been killed in Xinjiang region’s capital, Urumqi, after attackers crashed two cars into shoppers at a market, Chinese media reports say.
They also threw explosives during the attack in the regional capital Urumqi. More than 90 people were injured, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
The Ministry of Public Security called it a “violent terrorist incident”.
At least 31 people have been killed in Xinjiang region’s capital, Urumqi, after attackers crashed two cars into shoppers at a market (AP)
Xinjiang, which is home to the Muslim Uighur minority, has seen a spate of attacks in the past year.
Information about incidents in the region, where ethnic tensions between Uighurs and Han Chinese continue, is tightly controlled.
Pictures on Weibo microblogs – China’s equivalent of Twitter – appeared to show Thursday’s attack taking place at one end of a busy market street lined with vegetable stalls.
One of the two vehicles exploded.
A local shopkeeper told the Associated Press he heard “four or five explosions” and saw “three or four people lying on the ground”.
“Witnesses said two cross-country vehicles driving from north to south ploughed into people in the market at 07:50. Explosives were thrown out of the vehicles,” the Xinhua report said.
The injured were taken to several hospitals, Xinhua said.
The World Uyghur Congress said the authorities in the Chinese capital Beijing should not increase the crackdown in Xinjiang.
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Armed police patrol vehicles have been deployed in Beijing following three attacks at transport hubs around the country.
The 150 vehicles are tasked with “countering street terrorism and fighting severe violence”, state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Petrol purchases would also be tightened, with buyers required to register with police, reports said.
Armed police patrol vehicles have been deployed in Beijing following three attacks at transport hubs around the country
The move follows station attacks in Kunming, Urumqi and Guangzhou, and comes before the Tiananmen anniversary.
Xinhua agency said the armed police patrols would be stationed at major road junctions and manned by at least nine police officers and other assistants.
They would cover an area of 1.8 miles and would be required to respond within three minutes, Xinhua added.
Meanwhile, those buying petrol would have to explain their intentions in a move that aimed to prevent the use of gasoline “to create disturbances”, People’s Daily newspaper said.
The security upgrade comes amid heightened concern over security after the three station attacks.
March’s group knife attack in Kunming left 29 people dead and more than 100 wounded. A similar attack in Urumqi in April left three people dead and almost 80 injured.
Chinese authorities have blamed both attacks on separatists from the Muslim Uighur minority group, which lives in Xinjiang.
It is not yet clear what sparked an attack last week at Guangzhou station in which six people were hurt. One man is reported to be in custody.
In October 2013, meanwhile, five people died and dozens were injured after a car drove into a crowd near Tiananmen Square and burst into flames.
Officials said three of those who died – the occupants of the car – came from the Uighur minority group.
The Uighurs, who are ethnically Turkic Muslims, say that large-scale Han Chinese immigration into Xinjiang has eroded their traditional culture and accuse Beijing of oppressive control.
The boost in security in Beijing also comes three weeks ahead of the 25th anniversary of the crackdown on anti-government protesters at Tiananmen Square.
Several well-known activists, including journalist Gao Yu, have been detained ahead of the anniversary.
Slovakia has accepted three ethnic Uighur Chinese prisoners from Guantanamo Bay detention camp, the Slovak interior ministry says.
The three are now in the capital Bratislava, a ministry official said. None of them are terror suspects, the ministry stressed.
Slovakia – a member of the EU and NATO – also accepted three inmates from Guantanamo in 2010.
The US says all the Uighur prisoners have now been released from Guantanamo.
Since 2001 the prison has housed suspects detained by US forces during operations against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
“As in the case of the first transport, the persons in this transport have never been suspected nor accused of terrorism. The transport is a follow-up to the agreement of 2009 [with the US],” the Slovak ministry statement said.
Slovakia has accepted three ethnic Uighur Chinese prisoners from Guantanamo Bay detention camp
A US Department of Defense statement named the latest three Uighurs as Yusef Abbas, Saidullah Khalik and Hajiakbar Abdul Ghuper.
“These three are the last ethnic Uighur Chinese nationals to be transferred,” the statement said, adding that they “are voluntarily resettling in Slovakia”.
“This transfer and resettlement constitutes a significant milestone in our effort to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,” the statement said, and it thanked the Slovak government for its “humanitarian gesture”.
The US refuses to repatriate Uighur detainees to China because of the risk that they could be mistreated. China has cracked down hard on Uighur dissidents who oppose rule from Beijing.
The latest release brings down the total of Guantanamo detainees to 155. Many have been held there for more than a decade, and many were cleared for release years ago.
More than 100 inmates went on hunger strike earlier this year.
According to a prisoner list published on WikiLeaks website, 22 Chinese Muslim Uyghurs were imprisoned at Guantanamo by US forces after capture in Afghanistan.
In April 2013, President Barack Obama renewed his call to close the prison, saying “it is inefficient, it hurts us in terms of our international standing”.
Previously six Uighurs have been sent from Guantanamo to the Pacific island nation of Palau, while 11 others have gone to Bermuda, Albania and Switzerland.
The Uighurs are a mainly Muslim, Turkic-speaking minority based in western China’s Xinjiang region.