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China executes Tiananmen Square attack 'masterminds'

By Katie Hunt, CNN
updated 9:21 PM EDT, Sun August 24, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • China executes 8 people convicted of terrorism
  • Three were executed for their roles in an attack on Tiananmen Square in October
  • China has cracked down on violence in Xinjiang involving Uyghurs

Hong Kong (CNN) -- China has executed eight people convicted of terrorism, including three for their roles in an attack in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in October, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing local authorities.

Authorities in Xinjiang, an ethnically divided province in China's far west, said that three of those executed "masterminded" a terrorist attack on October 28 when a vehicle drove through security barriers and into a crowd on the square in the capital.

It crashed into a pedestrian bridge and burst into flames, killing five, including three in the vehicle, and wounded 40 others.

The other five had been found guilty of crimes including murder of government officials, setting up a terrorist organization and the illegal manufacturing of explosives, Xinhua said.

Xinjiang attacks shifting to civilians
Tensions in western China

China has cracked down on violence in Xinjiang involving Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking, predominantly Muslim ethnic group after a series of high profile attacks in the past year.

Religious extremists

Twenty-nine people were killed and 130 injured when men armed with long knives stormed a train station in Kunming, southwest China in March.

The following month, an attack on a train station in Urumqi, the regional capital, left three dead, including the attackers, and an attack on an Urumqi market in May killed at least 39.

China has blamed religious extremists for violence in the region.

Some Uyghurs have expressed resentment toward China's Han majority in recent years over what they say is harsh treatment from Chinese security forces and Han people taking the lion's share of economic opportunities in Xinjiang.

Uyghurs also say their religious and cultural freedom has been curtailed.

Earlier this month, a town in Xinjiang temporarily banned people from wearing Islamic-style clothing and large beards on buses.

READ: China bans beards, veils on buses

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