The Islamic State has killed three Chinese deserters, according to the Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times.
The three were among 120 other members of the extremist group who were killed over the past six months in Iraq and Syria, the newspaper said on Thursday, citing an unnamed Kurdish security official.
The official said that one Chinese man who’d joined its ranks in Syria was “arrested, tried and shot dead” in September after he’d become “disappointed about the reality of Islamic State” and attempted to flee to Turkey.
“Another two Chinese militants were beheaded in late December in Iraq, along with 11 others from six countries. The Islamic State charged them with treason and accused them of trying to escape,” the official was quoted as saying in the paper (via Reuters).
The three fighters from China belonged to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the paper said. The Chinese government has blamed Uyghur separatists from ETIM for carrying out dozens of deadly attacks in Xinjiang in recent years.
Wu Sike, China’s special envoy to the Middle East, previously estimated that around 100 Chinese extremists were fighting alongside IS, while The Global Times said in December that the number had reached 300.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not comment on the most recent report, but said at a press briefing that the country condemns “all forms of terrorism”.
“China is willing to work with the international community to combat terrorist forces, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and safeguard global peace, security and stability,” he said.
In September, Iraq claimed that its soldiers captured an IS militant from China and published photos of the purported fighter’s face bruised and beaten.