Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network has taken up the cause of China’s Muslim Uighur minority with a pledge to attack Chinese workers in North-Western Africa in retaliation for mistreatment by Beijing of its largest Muslim minority in Urumqi. The Algerian based Al-Qaeda offshoot, the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has threatened to target the 50,000 Chinese nationals in North-Western Africa.
It is the first time that any al-Qaeda group has threatened China or its interests and illustrates the high price that Beijing may pay for the riots in Urumqi, in which at least 136 Han Chinese and 46 Uighurs died last week. Though an expert assessment does not suggest there is any direct link between Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province and al-Qaida. It also suggests it is unlikely that al-Qaida's central leadership has decided to stage attacks within China.
Security remains tight in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, after two Uighurs were shot dead by police yesterday and a third wounded in a street fight, the details of which remain unclear. Everyone in the city must now carry their identity card or driving licence or they will be taken away for interrogation.
AQIM, which wants to impose an Islamic state in Algeria, was founded in the mid-1990s and pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden in 2003. The huge oil and gas reserves in Xinjiang, as well as the web of pipelines that run through the province, funnelling energy from Kazakhstan and Russia all the way to Beijing and Shanghai, make the province vital to China's interests.
However, China's policy of total control has upset Islamic states, especially in the past week. Protesting Muslims in Indonesia called for a jihad against China on Monday, clashing with police outside the Chinese embassy in Jakarta.
Shootings follow inter-ethnic clashes in Urumqi in which government says 184 people died Chinese police shot dead two men and injured a third as the trio attacked a fellow Uighur in the riot-hit capital of north-western Xinjiang province today, officials have announced.
The violence follows last week's inter-ethnic clashes between Uighurs and Han Chinese in Urumqi, in which the government says that 184 people were killed and 1,680 wounded. It has warned that the death toll could rise.
Police fired warning shots today when they saw three Uighurs with long knives chasing an injured Uighur man, but the men then turned on the officers, officials said.
They shot dead two Uighurs with knives and injured another one, who is now in hospital receiving treatment. Around 20,000 security personnel are stationed in the city, but officials said the officers involved were regular police rather than paramilitaries. They were on patrol in the Tianshan district, close to a Uighur area, when the incident happened shortly before 3pm.
It is rare for the authorities to publish details of this kind of case so quickly.
A Chinese-language daily newspaper is being published in Botswana. Chinese entrepreneur Miles Nan recently launched The Oriental Post - Africa's first paper in Chinese - to serve the 5,000-plus Chinese inhabitants living in Botswana, few of whom are able to read English.
"In launching the paper I wanted to improve relations between the Chinese and Botswanas. The Chinese could learn a lot about the culture and diversity in Africa. We also want to publish a few pages in English so that the Botswanans can find out about us too. Concerning Chinese politics, We shouldn't, and we don't, publish anything and everything. It's just like that."
Nan, who has lived in Botswana for 10 years and is ceo of a construction company in the Botswana capital, Gaborone, is also secretary general of the Chinese chamber of commerce.