BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan: Authorities in Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday blamed Uighur jihadists in Syria for masterminding a suicide attack against the Chinese embassy in the Central Asian country.
A van exploded after ramming through a gate at China’s diplomatic outpost in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek on August 30, killing the driver and injuring three local embassy employees.
The Kyrgyz national security committee said in a statement that investigations had shown the “instigators” were “Uighur terrorist groups acting in Syria”, pointing the finger of blame at radicals from the mostly Muslim Chinese minority.
The alleged suicide bomber was an ethnic Uighur with a passport from ex-Soviet Tajikistan who was a member of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) group in Syria, the statement said.
Five suspects accused of involvement in the attack have been arrested and four more suspected of being in Turkey have been put on the wanted list, the authorities said.
Xinjiang—the homeland of China’s 10 million Uighurs, just over the border from Kyrgyzstan—is sporadically hit by deadly violence.
China has accused what it says are exiled Uighur separatist groups such as the ETIM of being behind attacks in the volatile region.
Chinese authorities have also accused scores of Uighurs who have fled the country of attempting to train with extremists in Syria and eventually return to Xinjiang to wage jihad.
But many experts doubt the existence of ETIM, pointing out that although China frequently blames the group for radicalizing Uighurs, it has yet to provide any evidence that outside organizations were involved in attacks.
Impoverished majority-Muslim Kyrgyzstan has a history of political instability and battling Islamist extremism.
Chinese officials in the country have previously been targeted in attacks blamed on Uighur radicals.
Authorities say the country faces the threat of attacks by the Islamic State group after some 500 Kyrgyz left to fight for the jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
One of the three suicide bombers who carried out a deadly attack blamed on IS at the international airport in the Turkish city Istanbul in June was reported to be from Kyrgyzstan. AFP