China has sent a delegation to Kyrgyzstan to investigate the murder of a Chinese diplomat and his aide. Police in the Kyrgyz capital are looking into the possibility that the killings were carried out by separatist Muslim Uighurs from northwestern China.
The Chinese diplomat and his assistant were killed Saturday night while driving through Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital. Wang Jianping was first secretary at the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek, and Umarov Nurmuhamed a native of Xinjiang Province in northwestern China helped Mr. Wang issue visas.
Two attackers in another car reportedly forced Mr. Wang's limousine to stop, and fired four shots from a pistol through the windshield.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters in Beijing that a Chinese delegation left Tuesday morning to help investigate Mr. Wang's murder. The team is led by Foreign Ministry officials, and includes the diplomat's wife and daughter. Mr. Liu also urged Kyrgyz authorities to arrest the murderers as soon as possible.
The official China Daily newspaper Tuesday quotes a Kyrgyz government spokesman as saying that Uighur separatists may have been involved in the killings.
Extremist Muslim Uighurs have recently carried out other attacks in Kyrgyzstan. Earlier this year, Kyrgyz prosecutors convicted four Uighurs for an attack on a delegation from Xinjiang Province in May 2000, which killed one Chinese official.
China has urged Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian republics to crack down on Uighurs agitating for an independent state of East Turkestan in China's Xinjiang Province. China said Uighur separatists have ties with terrorist groups such as al-Qaida.
Human rights groups have criticized China for using the war on terror as an excuse to curb the civil liberties of peaceful Muslims in its northwest region.