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Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 08:30 GMT 09:30 UK
China executes Muslim separatists

The Chinese authorities have announced the execution of three Muslim separatists in the north-western province of Xinjiang.

An official newspaper Xinjiang Daily said they were shot last week -- along with three other men -- after being found guilty of crimes including murder and splitting the country.

It said one had been caught with four tons of explosive-making material.

Last month the Chinese executed five other people -- all ethnic Uighurs -- in Xinjiang on similar charges.

The BBC Beijing correspondent says China is fighting an increasingly protracted struggle against the Uighurs, who form a majority in the area, and want to re-establish an independent state of East Turkestan, which existed briefly in the nineteen thirties and forties.

China believes the separatists are being helped by Uighur groups in neighbouring central Asian states. Kyrgyzstan announced the arrest of ten alleged Uighur separatists on murder charges on Monday.

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