BEIJING, July 16 (UPI) -- China says it dismantled 12 terrorist groups this year in the country's far western Xinjiang Uighur region, where much of its Muslim population is concentrated.
Quoting local police, the China Daily reported Wednesday the groups allegedly were sub-branches of transnational terrorist organizations, including the "Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement" and "Hizb-e Tahrir Organization."
Kashgar Police Chief Huang Sanping was quoted as telling a Hong Kong newspaper the groups' members are mostly jobless drifters or ex-convicts.
The region is near the borders of five countries, including Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Human rights groups have accused China of using its anti-terrorism campaign against the 8 million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, the country's largest province. They say authorities have fought opposition from the Uighurs by encouraging the migration of ethnic Han Chinese.
"Kashgar was the site of riots in the early 1990s, but the evil forces have been steadily nipped in the bud since 2000," Huang was quoted as saying.
Last week, Chen Zhuangwei, Urumqi's public security head, said five "terrorist groups" accused of plotting attacks at next month's Beijing Summer Olympics had been foiled and 82 people had been arrested. Five others accused of being part of a "holy war training group" were shot and killed by police.