July 15, 2014 / 8:53 AM / 5 years ago

Chinese city bans, destroys matches to fight terror

BEIJING (Reuters) - A city in China’s violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang has banned matches and destroyed more than 20,000 boxes of them as part of efforts to fight terror attacks, a state-run newspaper said.

Fukang, which sits near regional capital Urumqi, decided to remove all matches from circulation to ensure they are not used by “terrorist groups or individual extremists to carry out criminal activities”, the People’s Daily said on its website.

Police destroyed 20,223 boxes of matches, which will ensure that the city maintains its current peaceful environment, the newspaper added, citing the local government.

The county police made the original announcement last week but it was only picked up by state media on Tuesday.

The announcement didn’t say how the matches are used for criminal activity.

China has been toughening its response after a spate of bloody incidents nationwide centered on Xinjiang, the traditional home of the Muslim Uighurs.

China has blamed attacks on Islamist separatists in the region, who, it says, want to establish an independent state there called East Turkestan.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Urquhart

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