Four jailed on terror charges in China: State media

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese court has sentenced four people to between 10 and 20 years in prison on terror-related charges, state media reported, as Beijing furthers a crackdown after a wave of violent attacks.

The four individuals were found guilty on Wednesday of "participating in terrorist organisations, illegally manufacturing explosives, harbouring suspects and financing terror activities", according to a report on Yunnan Net, a Yunnan provincial government news website.

The four - whose names suggest they are members of China's Uighur minority - were sentenced by the Intermediate People's Court in Yunnan's Honghe prefecture, the report said on Thursday.

The case comes as China is in the midst of a crackdown over a series of violent attacks that it blames on religious extremists and "terrorists" seeking independence for the far-western Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

In March, 31 people were killed and more than 140 wounded in a mass stabbing at a train station in Yunnan's provincial capital, Kunming.

A Kunming court last week sentenced three men to death and a pregnant woman to life in prison in connection with the attack, which has been dubbed "China's 9/11" by state-run media.

The Yunnan Net report did not mention any connection between the Kunming attack and the four sentenced on Wednesday. According to the report, the Honghe court said the defendants were "affected by extreme religious ideology", had made explosives and "sought to participate in jihad".

Two of the defendants were arrested as they were making their way from Kunming to the neighbouring Guangxi region with the aim of leaving China, Yunnan Net said. All four appealed the ruling, it added.

In a separate case, a prominent Uighur academic, Ilham Tohti, is standing trial on charges of separatism in Xinjiang. International rights groups have called for Tohti's release and denounced the trial, which is set to conclude on Thursday.