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Chinese Authorities Break Up 'Terrorist Plots,' Step Up Pressure on Exiled Uighur Leader

Chinese state-run media say officials have prevented five attacks on civilians in China's northwestern Xinjiang since unrest hit the region early last month. News of the alleged attacks comes as the government is stepping up its offensive against exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer just as she arrives in Australia.

Chinese media are reporting that anti-terrorism authorities in Xinjiang have broken up at least five alleged terrorist attacks on civilians since last month's riots in Urumqi.

Anti-terrorism sources gave few details about the nature of the attacks, but did say the plots targeted civilians in four cities in Xinjiang.

Reports did not say how many were involved and only added that authorities confiscated guns, knives, explosives and other materials that advocated violence and terrorism.

News of the alleged plots comes as Chinese state media have unleashed a new offensive against exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, releasing a letter from her family members still in China and television interviews of them blaming her for last month's deadly riots.

The letter was reportedly penned by close relatives of Kadeer, including two of her children.

Kadeer's son Alim, her daughter Roxingul and brother Memet also gave interviews that were broadcast on Chinese state television as well criticizing her and accusing separtists of using the international media to stir up ethnic unrest in China.

Bruce Jacobs, a professor of Asia languages and studies at Australia's Monash University says its clear to him that the statements were coerced out of Kadeer's family members.

"Very early on [after the riots], the Chinese started talking about Rebiya Kadeer as the great splittist and great orchestrator of all these demonstrations, and what was ironic to me was how much this paralleled what they had said about the Dalai Lama," Jacobs said. "And, you know, it was nonsense in regard to the Dalai Lama and it was also nonsense with regard to Rebiya Kadeer."

Jacobs says China makes such statements about Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and Kadeer to cover up what he says is the huge repression that is going on in both areas.

After arriving in Australia Tuesday, Kadeer told reporters in Sydney that she believes the Chinese government forced two of her children to speak against her. She says that if they had not their lives would be in jeopardy.

She says they are both in prison in China, where one was convicted of tax evasion and the other of subversion.

Kadeer was once a successful businesswoman and a member of China's legislature. But she fell out of the government's favor after criticizing its policies.

After spending six years in prison in China, she resettled in the United States and is now the head of the exile group, the World Uighur Congress.

She is currently in Australia to attend the Melbourne International Film Festival, which will feature a documentary about her life.

Her appearance at the festival has become a point of controversy for some of its participants from China, and several Chinese filmmakers have yanked their films in protest. China has also made repeated requests to the Australian government to refuse her a visa.

Chinese authorities say the early July riots in Xinjiang left nearly 200 people dead and more than 1,600 injured. They also say they have detained more than 1,700 suspects in the aftermath of the unrest.