China sentences four Uighurs to death for terrorism

China sentences four Uighurs to death for terrorism

China has sentenced to death four Uighur men convicted of terrorism and murder in the far western region of Xinjiang, state media said on Thursday.

The four men were among six Uighurs tried on Tuesday by courts in southern Xinjiang's restive cities of Hotan and Kashgar for involvement in three attacks in July, the state-run regional website Tianshan Net reported.

The courts sentenced the two other men to 19 years in prison, dpa quoted the report as saying.

It said the six Uighurs were convicted of murder, arson, organizing and engaging in terrorism, and illegally making explosives.

The sentences were linked to an attack on a police station in Hotan on July 18, when four people died and four were injured, and two attacks in Kashgar on July 30 and 31.

The Kashgar attacks left 13 dead and 44 injured, earlier state media reports said.

In a statement on Thursday, Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the Munich-based World Uighur Congress, quoted local sources as saying the six men were tortured during their detention, only allowed one brief meeting with state-appointed lawyers and not given fair trials.

Relatives were threatened with punishment if the men failed to accept the court procedures, Raxit said in a statement.

The government blamed the Pakistan-based East Turkistan Islamic Movement for organizing the attacks in July.

State media have reported several other terrorist attacks by Uighurs in Xinjiang in recent years.

At least 26 people were sentenced to death, most of them Uighurs, after ethnic riots in July 2009 left some 200 people dead and 1,700 injured in the regional capital, Urumqi.

But Uighur exile groups have accused China's ruling Communist Party of using the global fight against terrorism as an excuse to suppress political and religious activity among Uighurs, some of whom seek independence.

The mainly Muslim Uighurs make up about 40 per cent of Xinjiang's population of 20 million.

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