China says 8 convicted terrorists executed in west

BEIJING (AP) - Chinese state media said Saturday that eight convicted terrorists were executed in the far western region of Xinjiang, where ethnic conflicts have left dozens of people dead this year.

Among those executed were three men convicted of plotting a deadly assault in the heart of Beijing last year in which the attacker - with his mother and wife as passengers - drove a sports utility vehicle through crowds, killing themselves and three bystanders, the government-run Tianshan Net news portal said. The incident was a sign that the ethnic violence was spilling out of the ethnic region of Xinjiang.

The others who were executed were convicted of offenses including police attacks, bomb making, murder and arson, the news portal said.

The report did not say when the executions took place.

Xinjiang is home to the Muslim, Turkic minority of Uighurs (pronounced WEE'-gurs). Beijing has blamed the ethnic violence on terrorism with overseas ties, but human rights groups say the Uighurs are suffering from repressive policies and practices.

All eight people executed have Uighur-sounding names.

China is in a one-year strike-hard campaign against terrorism in Xinjiang, following a series of attacks that left scores of people dead earlier this year. The authorities have vowed swift actions and severe punishments against terrorists, but Uighur rights groups have said the harsh measures would only further alienate the Uighurs and cause more resentment.