Meng Jianzhu, secretary of the Communist Party's Central Politics and Law Commission, blamed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement for the incident in an interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television Thursday while he was in Uzbekistan for a security summit.
Meng's comments were the first official statements attributing the attack to the separatist group, which China said is linked to al-Qaida and has carried out dozens of attacks on government targets and members of the country's ethnic Han Chinese majority in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
"This violent terrorist incident that happened in Beijing was an organized and premeditated operation," Meng said in the Phoenix interview. "Its instigator behind the scenes was the East Turkestan Islamic Movement that is entrenched in the central Asian and west Asian regions."
He didn't offer a reason why he believed the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement orchestrated Monday's attack, in which a sport utility vehicle plowed through a crowd of tourists, crashed into a barrier and burst into flames at the entrance to the Forbidden City, killing the vehicle's three occupants and two tourists.
Police say the three people in the vehicle, who died after setting themselves on fire with gasoline, were related, Chinese state-run media reported. The reports didn't indicate the family's home area, but identified them as having what appeared to be Uighur names, the Journal said.
Police have detained five suspects, whose names also appear to be Uighur, state-run media said. Police notices said they were from Xinjiang.