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Last Updated: Friday, 9 February 2007, 11:06 GMT
China 'executes' Uighur activist
An ethnic Uighur Muslim activist has been executed by China for "attempting to split the motherland", the US-backed Radio Free Asia reports.

Ismail Semed was shot dead in the far western city of Urumqi, capital of the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang province.

The case has been criticised by rights groups who say the conviction was based mainly on his alleged links to an outlawed separatist movement.

There has been no word from Chinese authorities on the execution.

Semed's wife, Buhejer, told Radio Free Asia she was only allowed 10 minutes with her husband before he was executed.

"When the body was transferred to us at the cemetery I saw only one bullet hole in his heart," she said.

Separatist violence

Semed was convicted in October 2005 of "attempting to split the motherland" and the possession of firearms and explosives.

Buhejer said her husband had told the court during his trial that he had been forced to make a confession.

Muslim Uighurs
Ethnically Turkic Muslims, mainly in Xinjiang
Made bid for independent state in 1940s
Sporadic violence in Xinjiang since 1991

Critics say the case was marred by a lack of evidence, and the charges stemmed from allegations he was a founding member of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), considered a terrorist group by both the US and China.

Before his trial, Semed had been deported from Pakistan where he had fled after serving two jail terms for alleged involvement in a violent uprising in 1990.

Uighur and rights groups have condemned the case.

"His trial, like most Uighur political prisoners' trials, was not fair," the World Uighur Congress said.

Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs make up about eight million of the 19 million people in Xinjiang.

Some Uighurs are eager to re-establish an independent Islamic nation, and Xinjiang has suffered periodic separatist violence which China is eager to suppress.

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15 Dec 03 |  Asia-Pacific

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