SUV Crash In Beijing May Have Been Protest

SUV_Crash_Beijing_2013BEIJING — Authorities are investigating whether ethnic minorities from China’s troubled Xinjiang area were involved in a fiery vehicle collision at Tiananmen Square on Monday that killed at least five people.

In a notice sent to hotels in Beijing, police ordered hotel staff to search for “suspicious” guests and vehicles related to Monday’s incident, and specifically named two residents from counties in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to state media and reports quoting hotel staff.

Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority, have clashed repeatedly and violently with authorities in Xinjiang in recent years. Their possible involvement in Monday’s incident — in which an SUV veered into a crowd in the iconic square, then crashed and burst into flames — indicates that the collision may have been a deliberately staged protest against Chinese rule. That prospect could tighten already strict controls in Xinjiang and heighten tensions between Uighurs and the Chinese government.

For years, many Uighurs have agitated against the ethnic Chinese population and China’s authoritarian government — a reaction, Uighur groups say, to oppressive government policies and widespread discrimination. Ethnic rioting and bloody clashes reached a peak four years ago, causing more than 200 deaths and resulting in even stricter policies.

Source: Washington Post