Three Islamic militants from restive Xinjiang province were today sentenced to death by a Chinese court for a deadly terror attack at the iconic Tiananmen square here last year, the first such strike by separatists outside the Muslim majority province.
The three were sentenced to death and five others were jailed over the attack near Beijing's Tiananmen Square in October 2013 by the court in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The eight, all hailing from Xinjiang, were arrested after the attack in which a family of three including a mother, son and daughter-in-law were accused of driving an SUV laden with gasoline cans. The vehicle caught fire as it tried to gate crash into the well guarded tourist spot in the capital.
Five people, including the three attackers, were killed and several others injured in the attack, which China blamed on the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a militant group linked to al-Qaeda. The group has been fighting for the independence of Xinjiang, where the local Muslim Uygurs were restive over increasing settlements of Hans from other parts of China.
Besides terming it a terrorist attack, few details were released by Chinese investigators. It was, however, the first such attack outside Xinjiang by the militants. The militants subsequently carried out a number of deadly attacks outside the province including the knife attacks at Kunming and Guangzhou railway stations, besides Urumqi, the provincial capital of Xinjiang in which several people were killed and dozens injured.
China had stepped up nationwide security, besides Xinjiang after the attacks.