Chinese police today said they have arrested the only surviving bomber who carried out one of the bloodiest attacks in years in the restive Xinjiang province, while an anxious government announced a security crackdown across China.
The attack by five assailants on Thursday at a busy market palace in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, killed 43 people, including four attackers, and injured 94.
Police had identified five suspects involved in the attack. Four of the suspects died in the bomb attack and their identity verified by their DNA.
The fifth suspect was caught on Thursday night in Bayingolin Mongolia Autonomous Prefecture, a predominantly Uygur Muslim inhabited area.
The suspects - Nurahmat Ablipiz, Memet Memtimin, Raghimjan Memet, Memtimin Mahmat and Ablet Abdukadir- had long been influenced by religious extremism, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, without naming the group they belonged to.
It was the worst attack in five years in the far western region after riots in July, 2009 in the regional capital claimed 197 lives and injured more than 1,700.
Xinjiang, bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, has been volatile for a few years due to resentment among native Muslim Uygurs over settlements by Hans from other parts of China. Some 190 terrorist attacks were recorded in Xinjiang in 2012.
China blames the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, an al Qaeda and Taliban affiliated group fighting for the independence of Xinjiang. Its leaders are believed to be operating from Pakistan's tribal areas.
The issue had figured in the talks between Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Shanghai on May 22, the day of the incident.
Hussain, who was in CHina to attend the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, assured action against "East Turkistan forces."
Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post today reported air attacks being carried out by Pakistan forces on Uygur separatists in tribal areas following pressure from China.
Chinese police said the five militants involved in the Urumqi attack were part of illegal religious activities, who watched and listened to violent video and audio materials. They formed a five-member terrorist gang at the end of 2013.
To carry out the attack, they bought materials for making explosives and arranged vehicles.
Meanwhile, state media has announced that authorities stepped up security in Beijing and other cities.
About 120 armed patrol vehicles have been deployed in Beijing with instruction to immediately report a place of attack. Four chopper shave been deployed for aerial surveillance. At metro stations, vulnerable to such attacks, individuals and their luggage are being checked thoroughly.