More Uighur militants infiltrating Indonesia: China

BEIJING • Ethnic Uighur militants from western China are increasing their presence in Indonesia, China's Foreign Ministry said yesterday, after Indonesian security forces said they killed two Uighurs belonging to a militant network.

Indonesia has launched an aggressive, military-backed, security campaign in the jungles of Sulawesi island as it battles the threat from growing domestic support for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.

Indonesian police said the two men killed in a clash on Tuesday were from China's Uighur Muslim minority who had joined Indonesia's most high-profile ISIS backer, a militant called Santoso, in central Sulawesi. Santoso, who is Indonesia's most wanted man, has been on the run for more than three years.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he had noted the reports about the shootout and was trying to find out more.

"China and Indonesia are both victims of terrorism and are facing new threats from the changing international and regional counter- terrorism environment," he told a daily news briefing.

"In recent years, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) terrorist forces have continued to increase their infiltration of Indonesia and have linked up with Indonesian terrorist extremist groups and have opened a transhipment route for people to participate in international terrorist activities.

"This not only threatens China's national security but is also a real danger to Indonesia's and the region's social stability."

China says the ETIM is a militant group with ties to Al-Qaeda and it wants to establish an independent state called East Turkestan.

Mr Lu said China and Indonesia supported and understood each other on counter-terrorism and had very good cooperation, and China was willing to increase that.

Four Uighur men were jailed last year in Indonesia for attempting to join the Sulawesi-based militants.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2016, with the headline 'More Uighur militants infiltrating Indonesia: China'. Print Edition | Subscribe