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China probes terror links in crash

| Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, 9:21 p.m.

BEIJING — Chinese authorities asked local hotels to watch for a pair of suspects from a majority-Muslim western region of the country as suspicions grew that a deadly car crash and fire near Tiananmen Square was a terror attack.

The vehicle plowed through dozens of pedestrians and police at the center of the capital at lunchtime Monday, killing five people and injuring 38 people, Qianlong.com, a Beijing government news website, reported. Killed were the driver, two passengers, a female tourist from the Philippines and a male tourist from Guangdong province in South China.

Beijing police in a notice to area hotels named two suspects from Xinjiang region in China's northwest, the Global Times, a Communist Party-run newspaper, reported. Staff at the French-owned IBIS Beijing hotel, in central Jianguomen, confirmed they had received the notice.

Chinese authorities have not said publicly whether the attack was terrorism, and Beijing police declined to comment on Tuesday.

Ethnic unrest has plagued the region as China's majority Han people have immigrated to the area and clashed with the native Uighur people. The Uighur, who are Muslim, have long complained about repressive rule by Beijing. The Chinese government argues it has brought badly-needed development, and says violent incidents there are fomented by “hostile foreign forces.”

Police named Yusupu Aihemaiti, 25, of Pishan County and Yusupu Wumaierniyazi, 43, from Shanshan County, where Chinese authorities said rioters killed 22 civilians and two policemen in June. The notice told hotel management to watch out for “suspicious” people and vehicles dating to Oct. 1, and gave four license number plates from Xinjiang.

Beijing police confirmed to the Global Times that they had issued the notice to hotels, but did not comment further.

An investigation is underway, Xinhua, the state news agency, reported.

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