After throwing in flash grenades and tear gas without effect, Chinese police reportedly used flamethrowers to force more than 10 “terrorists” from a cave in western Xinjiang, according to the military’s top newspaper, in a graphic account of the latest operation in Beijing’s elevated hunt for what they call “foreign-led extremists.”
The PLA Daily reports that the 10 militants were responsible for a deadly attack at a coal mine in Aksu that occurred in September. The attack was first reported in Radio Free Asia, and was only recently acknowledged by state media. China admits to killing 28 members of the group in a 56-day operation.
Police reportedly tracked some of the attackers to a mountainous region “like eagles hunting their prey.” They then used flash grenades and tear gas to force the militants from their hiding place. When those weapons failed, they opted for the flamethrower.
The attackers fled the cave wielding knives and were “completely annihilated” by police, according to the PLA Daily.
This is just the latest in a string of conflicts between police and militants in the restive Xinjiang region that has left hundreds dead in recent years.
Directly following the attacks in Paris, Beijing promised to strengthen its role in the global fight against terrorism, declaring war on ISIS, but also declaring that there should be “no double standards” when it comes to terrorism and called for international support in its fight against Islamist separatists in Xinjiang, deeming it an important part of the war on terror.
Meanwhile, critics have blamed the problems in the region on Beijing’s heavy-handed tactics that try to control the religion and culture of the local Muslim Uighur population.
In a statement, spokesman for exile group the World Uighur Congress Dilxat Raxit said: “The Paris attacks gave China a political excuse to brazenly use flamethrowers to clamp down on unarmed Uighurs who have no just legal protection and who seek to avoid arrest.”