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China says 35 arrested in Olympics bomb plot

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  • NEW: Ministry: Plot involved bombing Beijing, Shanghai, kidnapping athletes, tourists
  • NEW: China says it has thwarted two plots by Xinjiang separatists to attack Games
  • Watchdog group: Muslims in Xinjiang subject to "quick, secret, summary trials"
  • Official: "We know that their goal was very clear": to sabotage the Olympics
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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Islamic terrorists planned to attack Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese locations with poisonous gas and explosives to sabotage the Summer Olympic Games, China announced Thursday.

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Construction workers stand in front of Beijing's National Stadium in January.

Chinese authorities arrested 35 suspects during a 10-day series of raids that ended on Sunday, according to a statement from the Ministry of Public Security.

The raids in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, also netted about 21 pounds (9.5 kg) of explosives, eight detonators, two explosive devices, and some propaganda materials for "holy war."

"We know that their goal was very clear -- that is, specifically to sabotage the staging of the Beijing Olympics," Communist Party Secretary Wang Lequan said.

The Xinjiang autonomous region in northwestern China is home to about 19 million people, most of them Muslims and other minorities. Many oppose Beijing's rule.

Chinese authorities have not provided evidence or sources to the public regarding any terror plot.

The terrorists planned to target hotels in Beijing and Shanghai that were frequented by foreigners, as well as government buildings and military bases, according to the ministry's statement.

The group also planned to kidnap foreign journalists, tourists and Olympic athletes "to make influences on international communities to undermine the Beijing Olympics," the ministry said.

In a previous raid in January, 10 people were arrested in Xinjiang in connection with another plot targeting the Games, according to Thursday's statement from the Public Security Ministry.

Chinese authorities also recovered jihadist propaganda and bomb-making equipment during that raid. Video Watch how the group may have links to al Qaeda »

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have raised concerns about China's crackdown on Muslims in the region.

"China continues to use the 'war on terrorism' to justify policies to eradicate the 'three evil forces' -- terrorism, separatism and religious extremism -- allegedly prevalent among Uighurs," Human Rights Watch recently stated.

"Uighurs who express 'separatist' tendencies are routinely sentenced to quick, secret and summary trials, sometimes accompanied by mass sentencing rallies. The death penalty is common," the group said.

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China said both plots have been linked to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement Organization, a terrorist group based outside China which sent its leader Aji Mai Mai Ti to China late last year "to accelerate the preparation on terrorism activities" targeting the Beijing Games.

The terrorist cell inside China, led by Aji Mai Mai Ti, carried out tests on poisonous meat, poisonous gas and remote explosive devices as part of its plans, the ministry said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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