The latest sign that ethnic Muslim Uyghurs from the Chinese province are being radicalized has emerged with reports that Turkish police are on the hunt for one as the chief suspect in the New Year’s Eve nightclub massacre in Istanbul.
Chinese authorities have stepped up repression of the group of about 10 million people from the far flung province of Xinjiang that borders central Asian nations as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan since ethnocentric violence in July 2009 ripped apart the provincial capital Urumqi resulting in about 200 deaths.
This has lead to radical groups, including the group that calls itself the Islamic State, into recruiting disaffected Uyghurs.
According to The Guardian, most Uyghur fighters in Syria joined a faction effectively embedded within Jabah al Fateh al Sham (JFS), al-Qaeda’s principal proxy in the region and a bitter rival of the so called Islamic State.
China has accused radical groups of recruiting among Uyghur communities in central Asia, especially in Kyrgyzstan and Turkey and the issue is straining Chinese-Turkish relations.
The massacre at the Istanbul nightclub left 39 dead and many more injured.