Tiananmen attack was payback for Xinjiang mosque raid, villagers say

Tiananmen Square on Oct. 28, 2013.
Tiananmen Square on Oct. 28, 2013.
Image: Reuters/staff
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The Tiananmen Square car attack October 28 that killed five people and injured 38 happened exactly one year after Chinese police raided and destroyed part of a mosque in a village in Xinjiang, and may be directly related, villagers told Radio Free Asia on Thursday.

Usmen Hesen, the man driving the vehicle that exploded in Tiananmen Square, had publicly vowed revenge after police demolished the newly-built courtyard of the Pilal mosque in Yengi Aymaq on Oct. 28, 2012, former village chief Hamut Turdi said. Hesen had donated a lot of the funds for the mosque expansion.

Chinese authorities bulldozed the compound, tore down mosque walls, removed carpets and shut off the heat and water. ” ‘Today they have won and we have lost because they are carrying guns and we have nothing—but don’t worry, one day we will do something ourselves’,” Turdi said Hesen told a crowd outside the mosque last year.  Then he disappeared from the village.

Chinese authorities have strongly refuted the theory that there is any link between the heavy military presence in the Xinjiang and the Tiananmen attack. Many believe an increase in militarization of the western area could fuel more attacks in the east. China has been home to a steady stream of terrorist acts and ethnic violence in recent years, much of it concentrated in the western region.