Pishan hostage crisis

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Pishan hostage crisis
China Xinjiang Hotan.svg
Pishan is located in the southwest corner of Hotan Prefecture (pictured), Xinjiang.
Location Mukula, Pishan, Xinjiang, China
Date December 28, 2011
Target Goat shepherds, police
Attack type
Hostage crisis
Weapons Knives, guns
Deaths 7 hostage-takers, 1 policeman[1]
Non-fatal injuries
4 hostage-takers, 1 policeman[1]

The Pishan hostage crisis was a fatal incident that occurred on the night of December 28, 2011, in Pishan County, Xinjiang, China. A group of 15 Uyghur youths crossing the border into Pakistan for jihadist training kidnapped two goat shepherds for directions. They were soon confronted a group of five Pishan policemen, who tried to negotiate for the shepherds' release. The group attacked the policemen with knives, killing one and injuring another. The police shot back, killing seven hostage-takers, wounding and capturing four, freeing the two shepherds. The Xinjiang government called the kidnappers "violent terrorists", while a Uyghur exile group said the kidnappers' actions were the result of police repression.

Background[edit]

Pishan County is one of the poorest counties in the Xinjiang region,[1] on the southern edge of the Taklamakan Desert bordering Pakistan's Azad Kashmir.[2] An oasis county, its people are predominantly cotton-growers.[3] Han Chinese account for less than 2% of the population of Pishan.[4] Residents of Pishan told Xinhua that a new spirit of extremism was damaging organized Uyghur life.[5] Earlier in the month, religious extremists kidnapped and murdered a Uyghur man for drinking alcohol, which is prohibited in Islam.[6] Store-owners in Pishan who sell alcoholic drinks and cigarettes said that they feared retaliation by extremists.[5]

The ethnic Uyghur-dominated southern part of Xinjiang has witnessed increasing separatist violence by Uyghurs who want to establish an independent state.[1] On April 18 and 21, there were two fatal incidents of Uyghurs stabbing Han Chinese in the city of Kashgar.[2] In July, a Uyghur mob took over a police station, threatened hostages, and battled police in a standoff that would ultimately end in 18 deaths.[1] In that same month, a group of Pakistan-trained Uyghur youths killed 14 people in a vehicular, IED and knife attack in Kashgar.[2]

Events[edit]

2011 Pishan hostage crisis
Simplified Chinese 新疆皮山县挟持人质事件
Traditional Chinese 新疆皮山縣挾持人質事件
Literal meaning Xinjiang Pishan County hostage-taking incident
External images
Pishan crisis police casualty

A party of 15 young men and their wives en route to Pakistani jihadist camps became lost near the mountainous areas of Pishan.[4] Around 11 pm (1500 GMT)[7] on December 28, they kidnapped two Uyghur goat shepherds in the town of Kuoshi Tage (Qoshtagh)[1] and forced the shepherds to act as their guides.[8] The kidnapping was witnessed by several workers at the Kuoshi Tage agricultural cooperative.[1] At the border village of Mukula, the shepherds alerted local police to the group's intentions.[4] Five police officers, led by Pishan deputy police chief Adil Abduveli, tried to persuade the party to abandon their plans, while negotiating for the shepherds' release.[9] The party instead argued with the police, and when Abduveli touched one of the men's wives,[10] a kidnapper stabbed Abdulveli to death and injured another police officer.[2][11] According to local residents, the remaining police officers then opened fire, killing seven kidnappers and detaining four, who are charged with resisting arrest.[11] The two hostages were freed,[12] unharmed.[1] The government did not announce the ethnicity of the kidnappers, except to say that they were ethnic minorities;[4] Pishan residents interviewed by Radio Free Asia (RFA) confirmed that they were Uyghurs.[9] The village chief of one of the Mukala hamlets unofficially claimed to identify two of the seven shot as Ablikim Abduqadir and Hebibulla Abduqadir. Hebibulla Abduqadir has a criminal record of illegal religious activities, including a class taken three months prior in Artux.[10]

Reactions[edit]

World Uyghur Congress spokesperson Dilxadi Rexiti (迪里夏提, also known as Dilxat Raxit) said on December 29 that the hostage-takers were "angry" that police had searched private homes for Islamic extremist material, explaining the police attack as a matter of "the local Uighur people [not being able to] take the pressure anymore."[3] On the other hand, Xinjiang government spokeswoman Hou Hanmin said that the kidnappers were "violent terrorists".[4] Rexiti also questioned the death toll, claiming that his "sources" reported deaths of nine or ten among the kidnappers, not seven.[2] No more details on the kidnappers have been released as the police are investigating the incident.[13] On December 31, CPC party chief of Xinjiang Zhang Chunxian pledged to "safeguard regional stability"[1] and to enlist the Xinjiang public in the fight against "[foreign religious] infiltration" and "organized terrorist attacks".[7] Microbloggers on Sina Weibo were generally supportive of the slain police officer; one suggested that the government should be less "negligent" about combating terrorism.[7]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Choi, Chi-yuk (2011-12-30). "One officer, seven Uygurs killed in Xinjiang violence". China News Watch (South China Morning Post). Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Raman, Bahukutumbi (2011-12-30). "Uighurs Strike Again In Xinjiang – Analysis". Eurasia Review. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  3. ^ a b "At least 8 dead in ethnic fighting in western China". Beijing: Los Angeles Times. 2011-12-29. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Wong, Edward (2011-12-30). "Reports Describe Deadly Shootout in Restive Region of China". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  5. ^ a b "Suspected kidnappers killed in China's restive west". Beijing: Reuters. 2011-12-29. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  6. ^ "Police kill seven in kidnap incident". United Press International. 2011-12-29. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  7. ^ a b c "7 kidnappers killed, police officer dies". Ürümqi: China Daily. 2011-12-30. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  8. ^ "Seven 'kidnappers' killed in China's Xinjiang". BBC News. 2011-12-29. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  9. ^ a b "China: Armed Clashes In Xinjiang". Radio Free Asia. 2011-12-30. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  10. ^ a b "Women Killed, Children Captured In Standoff". Radio Free Asia. 2011-12-30. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  11. ^ a b Buckley, Chris; Blanchard, Ben (2011-12-29). "UPDATE 2-Suspected kidnappers killed in China's restive west". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  12. ^ "Chinese police kill seven kidnappers in rescue raid". Beijing. Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 2011-12-29. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  13. ^ "China police kill 7 kidnappers in hostage rescue". The Philippine Star. 2011-12-29. Retrieved 2011-12-30.