URUMQI, June 17 -- Civilians subject to extremist threats in Xinjiang are joining forces with the government and police in the fight for peace and prosperity.
When three men with knives attacked a group of people playing chess and cards on Sunday afternoon, local people in Hotan Prefecture rushed to defend their neighbors with shovels and sticks. Two of the attackers were killed in the melee. The third, lucky to escape with his life, was seized by armed law enforcers.
After the Urumqi bombing on May 22 that killed 39 civilians, China launched a year-long campaign against terrorists, extremists and separatists. On Monday, 13 people were executed in prefectures of Aksu, Turpan and Hotan for terror and violence. Also on Monday, three more were sentenced to death by Urumqi Intermediate People's Court for a deadly attack in Beijing's Tian'anmen Square in October 2013. X As the government raises the stakes, the people have weighed in.
Police in Pishan County captured three suspects following a tipoff, but several others evaded capture. Villagers volunteered to join the hunt and captured three terrorists carrying explosives.
"The fight was pretty hairy, but, if we had backed down, more people would be hurt in the future," said one of the triumphant villagers.
Following the May 22 attack, Pishan residents turned in 11 suspects when they learned that all suspects in the case were from their county.
"Although I'm an ordinary civilian, but I'll try my best to have them caught and protect our peaceful life," the villager said.
President Xi Jinping has called for "nets spread from the earth to the sky" to fight against terrorism, stressing long-term stability as the main goal for the region and urging ordinary people all over Xinjiang to support the campaign.
The police have received more than 300 tipoffs, based on which nine gangs were identified, 60 suspects arrested and over 160 explosive devices seized, according to Xinjiang public security department.
Since last year, there have been many attacks in Xinjiang, Beijing and Kunming, causing heavy casualties. Terrorists are targeting busy places like stations and markets, with innocent civilians their chosen targets.
Pan Zhiping, a researcher on terrorism with the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, believes the terrorists have riled the public, who are only too willing to become part of the anti-terror campaign.
"Public participation is key," said Pan.
On May 1, one day after an attack on an Urumqi train station that killed three and injured 79, 11 Uygur university students released an open letter calling on all Uygur people to join the fight against the terrorists.
Yang Shu, head of the central Asia research institute at Lanzhou University, thinks that both police and civilians need more guidance on how to respond to terrorism.
"They should learn how to protect themselves and how to fight back," he said.