Islamist militants recced area thrice before Tiananmen attack

Beijing: Islamist militants from China's restive Xinjiang province who carried out a suicide car crash at the iconic Tiananmen square visited the area thrice and bought knives and 400 litres of petrol before the attack, police said today.
A group of eight people, hailing from Muslim Uygur majority Xinjiang came together in the provincial capital Urumqi, watched a terror video and later swore to join Jihad, state-run CCTV quoted police officials as saying as more details emerged about the October 28 incident.
They were reportedly members of East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) which is fighting for the independence of Xinjiang that borders PoK and Afghanistan.
Commenting on the incident, Hua Chunying, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, today said the ETIM was the most "direct and real threat" to its security.
The details of the attack were reportedly revealed by five persons who were arrested by the police after the attack.
They first wanted to carry out a violent attack in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, but changed their plans to carry it out in Beijing.
Usmen Hasan, who along with his mother Kuwanhan Reyim, and his wife Gulkiz Gini drove their vehicle right up to the Forbidden city entrance where it went up in flames.
Hasan was chosen as the leader of the team, police said.
They came to Beijing in a Mercedes Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), moved into an apartment, bought knives and 400 litres of petrol, police said.
While five of them went back on October 23, the three launched the attack on October 28 in which they were killed along with two tourists. Forty others were injured in the attack.
However, no details were provided about what happened at the entrance of the Forbidden city and how the militants carried out the attack before they were killed.
"The ETIM has incited, organised and committed terrorist attacks of various forms in China over the years and spread the ideas of violence and terrorism," Hua told journalists.
"It has been the most direct and real threat to our security, and has damaged the security of other countries and regions," she said.
In her briefing, Hua said that ETIM which was banned by the UN has long been engaged in terrorist activities in Central, East and West Asia.