Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 11:31 UK

China arrests 'Olympic plotters'


Chinese authorities say 82 suspected terrorists have been arrested this year for plotting to sabotage the Olympic Games in Beijing.

They say they have broken up five terrorist groups in the mainly Muslim western region of Xinjiang.

The news follows earlier reports that police had killed five militants who wanted to wage holy war in the region.

International security experts have questioned the level of the threat that China says it faces.

Human rights campaigners accuse China of exaggerating an alleged threat to the Olympics to justify repression of the Muslim Uighur population in Xinjiang.

Ethnically Turkic Muslims, mainly in Xinjiang
Made bid for independent state in 1940s
Sporadic violence in Xinjiang since 1991
Uighurs worried about Chinese immigration and erosion of traditional culture

The BBC's James Reynolds, in Beijing, says the report from China's public security bureau sums up much of what is already known.

In January the police carried out a raid in the Xinjiang capital, Urumqi, in which two militants were killed, and two months later China said there had been an attempted hijacking of a flight from Urumqi.

In April, China said that its security forces had broken up a number of plots to carry out suicide bombings and to kidnap athletes during the Olympics.

Most recently, Chinese state-controlled media reported that the police had killed five militants in Urumqi, injured two more and arrested eight others.

Hundreds of checkpoints

Our correspondent says that China has suggested the threat it faces comes mainly from a group called the East Turkestan Islamic movement.

China says this movement has links to Al Qaeda but international security experts have questioned the threat that China says it faces.

As the Olympics approaches, China is stepping up security measures. A dual ring of hundreds of checkpoints is due to go up around Beijing starting next week.

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