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The Xinjiang attacks-- a move on the Pakistan game board?

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Last May, in the aftermath of the fake bin Laden kill and the American media's coordinated demonization campaign against Pakistan for being a terrorist haven that threatens the security of the civilized world (though we're the ones who have been drone bombing innocent people there for years) Pakistan ran to its neighbor China, who for its own strategic interests was glad to flex its muscles. The Chinese issued an ultimatum to the United States, warning our government that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China. China gave Pakistan 50 fighter jets in a quiet show of support that told its rival across the Pacific that it meant what it said. Writers opined on the growing alliance between Pakistan and China, and the deepening rift between the two nations and the United States.

A little over a week ago terrorist attacks rattled China in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

The first attack came on a Saturday when two men hijacked a truck (stabbing the driver) and drove it into pedestrians. The men then exited the truck and knifed bystanders before locals subdued them. Eight people died and 27 were wounded.

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The second attack happened the next day. A bomb went off in the city of Kashi. Six people died and fifteen were wounded, including three police officers.

All over the world reports quickly came out that the terrorists were trained in Pakistan, part of a group called the East Turkestan Islamic Movement-- a Waziri based mujahideen group whose goals are to liberate "East Turkestan" from China and the convert all Chinese people to Islam. Before the recent attacks the group had already claimed responsibility for over 200 acts of terrorism over a period of several years.

In response, the Chinese government ordered a sweeping security clampdown in the region. Meng Jianzhu, the public security minister, said, "Those criminals who dare to test the law and commit violent terrorist acts will be shown no leniency, no appeasement and no soft heart,"

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Two men who allegedly participated in the attack were shot dead by police in a cornfield.

Pakistan's intelligence chief-- General Ahmed Shuja Pasha-- flew to China and held meetings with the Chinese to discuss strategy on how to counter ETIM activities within Pakistan.

Things suddenly seemed shaky for China and Pakistan, leaving many observers to ask if the honeymoon was over.

***

What really happened?

Perhaps the attacks in Xinjiang were solely the work of Uyghur separatists.

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Or maybe they're part of a greater battle being fought behind the scenes.

***

While the Chinese government calls the region in question Xinjiang, separatists call it East Turkestan. Officially it is part of China but its culture is much more similar to those of the other Central Asian/former Soviet republics where the infamous "Great Game" was once played by Russia and Britain.

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Andrew Steele is the editor of America 20xy-- an independent news service that highlights articles from around the web focusing on international and economic policy, and human rights abuses. The mission statement for the page is a quote from Thomas (more...)
 

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