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By Alamgir Bitani
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, March 1 An al Qaeda-linked
militant who has called for attacks on China over its treatment
of Muslims has been killed in a U.S. missile strike in Pakistan,
Pakistani intelligence and Taliban officials said on Monday.
China, a close ally of Pakistan, is worried about the spread
of Islamist violence from militant strongholds in northwest
Pakistan to its troubled far western Xinjiang region.
Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, leader of a group called the
Turkistani Islamic Party (TIP), was killed in an attack by a
U.S. drone aircraft in the North Waziristan region on the Afghan
border on Feb. 15, they said.
"Abdul Haq al-Turkistani was among three militants killed,"
said a Pakistani intelligence agency official who declined to be
A Taliban militant official also said al-Turkistani had been
killed in the U.S. missile strike.
Last year, al-Turkistani appeared in a video on an Islamist
website calling for Chinese people to be attacked at home and
"Their men should be killed and captured to seek the release
of our brothers who are jailed in Eastern Turkistan,"
al-Turkistani, sitting with an assault rifle by his side, said
last year, referring to the region by an old name.
Described by an al Qaeda-linked website as the leader of
TIP, he accused China of committing "barbaric massacres" of
Xinjiang is home to 8 million Uighurs, a Turkic, largely
Islamic people who share linguistic and cultural bonds with
central Asia. Many resent a growing Han Chinese presence.
Chinese authorities in Xinjiang have waged a heavy-handed
campaign against what China calls violent separatist activity by
the ethnic minority Muslims.
China is a major investor in predominantly Muslim Pakistan
in areas such as telecommunications, ports and infrastructure.
The countries are linked by a Chinese-built road pushed through
Pakistan's northern mountains.
Hundreds of Chinese people work in Pakistan and several have
been kidnapped or killed in attacks in recent years.
Islamist militants from all over the world have flocked to
northwestern Pakistan's semi-autonomous ethnic Pashtun lands
since the 1980s, when holy warriors rallied with U.S. and
Pakistani support to push Soviet forces out of neighbouring
Many sought refuge in the region after U.S.-led forces drove
the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies out of Afghanistan in an
invasion weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The United States has stepped up its drone strikes in
northwest Pakistan over the past year killing several prominent
militants including Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud
Mehsud's replacement, Hakimullah Mehsud, is also widely
believed to have been killed in a missile strike in remote
mountains in January.
The militants have killed hundreds of people over recent
months in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, in suicide bomb
(Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Robert Birsel and Ralph