Police kill suspects in Kashi imam slaying

By Qiu Yongzheng in Kashi Source:Global Times Published: 2014-8-1 1:08:01

Victim spoke out against extremism

Two suspects were shot dead and another captured for the murder of Jume Tahir, imam of Id Kah Mosque, in Kashi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, local police said Thursday. 

The three suspects, who had been influenced by religious extremism and intended to do "something big" to raise their reputations, killed the 74-year-old imam at around 7 am Wednesday after he finished the morning prayer service, according to a report by Xinjiang's official news portal ts.cn.

The mosque in Kashi is the largest in Xinjiang. The city has witnessed increasing violence by religious extremists and separatists in recent years.

Police targeted the three suspects, named as Turghun Tursun, Memetjan Remutillan and Nurmemet Abidilimit. When they resisted arrest, waiving knives and axes, police opened fire and shot two dead and captured, the report said. Police did not reveal the name of the surviving suspect.

Religious followers in Kashi were furious after news of the imam's murder spread.

"I've been living here for a long time and have heard about the imam's legendary voice for years," a resident surnamed Mamaiti told the Global Times. "These terrorists dare to kill such a respected religious leader. Are they real Muslims?"

Other residents who gathered at the mosque Thursday wept as they remembered the imam, saying they wanted the terrorists to "go to hell."

This is not the first time a religious leader has been targeted by extremists in Xinjiang.

In 1996, Jume Tahir's predecessor at the same mosque was attacked by two masked extremists on his way to the mosque. The imam survived being stabbed 21 times. His son, who was stabbed 16 times, also survived. The attackers admitted to be members of a terrorist group composed of religious extremists.

Turgunjan Tursun, an expert on Xinjiang studies with the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the latest incident shows that these extremists have lost all reason.

"They clear away any obstacles that stand in the way of spreading extremist thoughts, while the imam, an authoritative figure in Xinjiang, has been vocal on anti-terrorism issues," he said.

Such a brutal slaying will only let more people see extremists clearly and more people, especially true believers of Islam, will join the fight against them, he added.

La Disheng, a professor at the Party School of the Communist Party of China's Xinjiang Regional Party Committee, told the Global Times that the extremists were trying to intimidate people, warning them that whoever who opposed their belief system would be in danger.

They want to isolate the Uyghur people from the local governments, he said.

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