China executes 13 people for 'terrorist' attacks in Xinjiang

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China executes 13 people for 'terrorist' attacks in Xinjiang
Heavily armed Chinese paramilitary policemen march past the site of the Wednesday's explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded "decisive actions" against terrorism following an attack at the railway station in the far-west minority region of Xinjiang that left three people dead and 79 injured. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Heavily armed Chinese paramilitary policemen march past the site of the Wednesday's explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded 'decisive actions" against terrorism following the attack at the railway station in the far west minority region of Xinjiang that left three people dead and 79 injured. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Heavily armed Chinese paramilitary police men march past the Urumqi South Railway Station a day after an explosion nearby in Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping demanded “decisive” action against terrorism after a slashing and bomb attack at a Xinjiang train station killed three people and injured 79 while the leader was wrapping up a tour of the far-western region. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A man squats on a concrete barrier as others wash and scrub the site of the Wednesday explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping demanded “decisive” action against terrorism after a slashing and bomb attack at a Xinjiang train station killed three people and injured 79 while the leader was wrapping up a tour of the far-western region.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Men wash and scrub the site of the Wednesday explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping demanded “decisive” action against terrorism after a slashing and bomb attack at a Xinjiang train station killed three people and injured 79 while the leader was wrapping up a tour of the far-western region. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Visitors gather near a giant electronic screen showing people of an ethnic minority in Xinjiang as part of a propaganda video at the Tiananmen Square during the May Day holiday in Beijing, China Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded "decisive actions" against terrorism following an attack at a railway station in the far-west minority region of Xinjiang that left three people dead and 79 injured. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
A man and child on a bicycle cycle past by an armored paramilitary police vehicle parked outside a hospital where victims of Wednesday's explosion receives treatment in Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded "decisive actions" against terrorism following an attack at a railway station in the far-west minority region of Xinjiang that left three people dead and 79 injured. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Chinese men examine damaged sign boards near the site of Wednesday's explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded "decisive actions" against terrorism following an attack at the railway station in the far-west minority region of Xinjiang that left three people dead and 79 injured. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Heavily armed Chinese paramilitary policemen march past the site of the Wednesday's explosion outside the Urumqi South Railway Station in Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Thursday, May 1, 2014. Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded 'decisive actions" against terrorism following the attack at the railway station in the far west minority region of Xinjiang that left three people dead and 79 injured. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
An armed policeman, right, watches as his colleagues check a device used to restrain potential attackers next to a mobile police station on Qianmen Street, a popular tourist spot in Beijing Wednesday, May 14, 2014. China's capital has boosted armed police patrols following a spate of attacks the government blames on terrorists seeking independence for the northwestern region of Xinjiang. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
People walk past armed Chinese paramilitary policemen stand guard near a shopping mall in Beijing Monday, May 12, 2014. China's capital boosted armed police patrols Monday following a spate of attacks the government blames on terrorists seeking independence for the northwestern region of Xinjiang. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Armed paramilitary policemen guard a crossing in front of Kunming Railway Station in Kunming, in western China's Yunnan province, Sunday, March 2, 2014. More than 10 assailants on Saturday slashed scores of people with knives at the train station, drawing police fire, in what authorities called a terrorist assault by ethnic separatists based in the far west, state media said Sunday. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
Armed Chinese paramilitary policemen stand guard near a city map in Beijing Monday, May 12, 2014. China's capital boosted armed police patrols Monday following a spate of attacks the government blames on terrorists seeking independence for the northwestern region of Xinjiang. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
An armed policeman, right, watches as his colleagues check a device used to restrain potential attackers next to a mobile police station on Qianmen Street, a popular tourist spot in Beijing Wednesday, May 14, 2014. China's capital has boosted armed police patrols following a spate of attacks the government blames on terrorists seeking independence for the northwestern region of Xinjiang. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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By Megha Rajagopalan and Ben Blanchard

(Reuters) - China executed 13 people on Monday for "terrorist attacks" in the far western region of Xinjiang, state media said, while another three were sentenced to death for a lethal attack at Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

"The 13 criminals had planned violent terrorist attacks and ruthlessly killed police officers, government officials and civilians, which took innocent lives, caused huge property losses and seriously endangered public security," the official news agency Xinhua said.

Xinjiang is the traditional home of Muslim Uighurs who speak a Turkic language, and China has blamed previous attacks on Islamist separatists it says seek to establish an independent state there called East Turkestan.

China Sentences 3 to Death for Attack at Tiananmen

Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the government's own repressive policies in Xinjiang have provoked unrest, something Beijing denies.

The 13 executed men were involved in attacks in different parts of Xinjiang, including one last June that killed 24 policemen and local residents, Xinhua said.

In the Tiananmen case, five people were killed and 40 hurt when a car plowed into a crowd in the square and burst into flames. Those killed included three people in the car.

As well as the death sentences for that attack, another man was sentenced to life and four others received jail terms ranging from five to 20 years, Xinhua said.

Footage of the trial on state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) showed suspects in orange jumpsuits at a Xinjiang courthouse, with Uighur women in tears as they watched the proceedings.

The men had formed a "terrorist group" in 2011, state broadcaster CCTV reported. Between December 2012 and the following September, they acquired firearms and explosives and last October traveled to Beijing and raised money to buy the car that would be driven to Tiananmen Square, CCTV said.

Attacks that authorities blame on Uighur separatists have continued.

A suicide bombing last month killed 39 people at a market in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital. In March, 29 people were stabbed to death at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming.

Knife-wielding attackers wounded four people in a crowded hall where people were playing chess in the western city of Hotan on Sunday, CCTV said in a separate report. Two of the attackers were killed and a third was arrested.

Dozens of suspects in Xinjiang have been arrested and tried in recent weeks, accued of spreading extremist propaganda, possessing banned weapons and other crimes.

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