Police have identified five suspects who were involved in carrying out the attack at an open market in Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, on Thursday morning that killed 39 innocent people and injured 94 more, according to Xinhua.
Witness accounts and state media reports said that the suspects’ vehicles crashed through metal barriers at the market in the Shayibake district around 7:50 a.m., striking shoppers while the assailants threw explosives indiscriminately from inside.
Four of the suspects were killed in the bomb attack and were identified through DNA testing, while another was caught by police on Thursday night in the Bayingolin Mongolia Autonomous prefecture.
Xinhua said that the suspects, identified as Nurahmat Ablipiz, Memet Memtimin, Raghimjan Memet, Memtimin Mahmat and Ablet Abdukadir, had been influenced by “religious extremism”.
They took part in illegal religious activities, watched and listened to terrorist violence video and audio materials, according to the police.
They formed a five-member terrorist gang at the end of 2013.
The suspects reportedly bought materials for producing explosives and used their own vehicles. The New York Times described it as “the single deadliest attack here since ethnic bloodletting claimed hundreds of lives five years ago.”
Authorities in Xinjiang yesterday announced a one-year “crackdown” on “violent terrorist activities” following Thursday’s attack.
Dilxat Raxit, Germany-based spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) exile group, said that police have been targeting people based on their ethnicity since the attack.
“Uyghurs in every major school and institution and in the art world, including teachers, students and civil servants are [being told to sign] documents pre-drafted by the Chinese government,” he said.
“A lot of Uyghurs have been detained, although definite figures aren’t available,” he said. “The ones doing the detaining are riot police and armed police from Urumqi municipal police departments.”
Raxit previously attributed the string of violent clashes in the region to discrimination and oppressive religious controls in Xinjiang at the hand of Beijing’s police force.
Follow more news on the restive Xinjiang region here.