x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

China blames violence on group holding 'secret Quran study sessions'

China blames violence that killed 25 people on a group holding secret Quran study sessions, accusations likely to be used by as justification for Beijing's strict rules on Islam.

BEIJING // China today blamed violence last week that killed 25 people on a group holding secret Quran study sessions, accusations likely to be used by as justification for Beijing's strict rules on Islam.

The claims came amid new revelations about the April 23 clash in which assailants, police officers and local government workers were killed near the city of Kashgar. It was one of the deadliest incidents of violence in Xinjiang since nearly 200 people were killed in a July 2009 ethnic riot in the regional capital, Urumqi. Police say they arrested 19 suspects and killed six others, all of them from the region's native Turkic Uighur Muslim ethnic group.

The group was led by Kasmu Memet, who began hosting the Quran study sessions in September, according to an account from the Xinjiang police that was posted to official websites. In March, they began manufacturing swords and conducting test explosions in preparation for carrying out a major attack this summer, the account said.

The report said the group also possessed three flags inscribed with slogans promoting Islamic holy war.