Saturday, May 24, 2014

Jitters in China's Xinjiang

Era of suicide bomber arrives with deadly blasts in Urumqi. Is this also the start of urban guerrilla warfare? 

Al-Jazeera - 24 May 2014

By Adrian Brown
Al Jazeera's senior China correspondent.

A week ago, I was reporting on anti-Chinese riots that had swept through a third of Vietnam's provinces following the sudden escalation of a long-festering territorial dispute.
Now here I was thousands of kilometres away in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, the sprawling province of mountains and deserts in China's far west.
It was a little after 3am and we had flown a circuitous route from Nanning, close to the Vietnamese border, to Beijing for the connecting flight to Urumqi.
A 12-hour journey. But now it was time to work.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Urumqi had experienced its worst single act of violence since the city was convulsed by riots five years earlier, in which more than 200 Han Chinese and ethnic Muslim Uighurs had died following days of rioting.
Now 39 people were dead and more than 90 injured following a series of blasts at a busy early morning market in the centre of Urumqi.
Is this the start of urban guerrilla warfare in China, I wondered? The targeting of civilians is what happens in Iraq and Pakistan, both countries I have reported from.
But such indiscriminate violence is extremely rare here.