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Kyrgyzstan Police Detain 2 Suspects in Murder of Chinese Diplomat, Aide

Police in Kyrgyzstan have detained two suspects in last week's murder of a Chinese diplomat and his aide. Kyrgyz authorities have ruled out any political motive for the killings. But one suspect is linked to a separatist Muslim Uighur group from western China.

Police in the Central Asian republic identify the two suspects as a Chinese citizen of Uighur descent, Yakub Erkin, and a Turkish national, Mustafa Karay.

Kyrgyz authorities describe Mr. Erkin as a member of a Uighur separatist group, opposing Beijing's rule in China's northwestern Xinjiang Province. Mr. Karay, the Turkish national, was reportedly convicted of murder in China, but escaped and trained at rebel camps in Chechnya and Afghanistan.

The Kyrgyz government says the Chinese embassy's first secretary, Wang Jianping, was the accidental victim of a struggle between rival gangs in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital. Interior Minister Bakirdin Subanbekov says the killers' real target was Mr. Wang's aide, Umarov Nurmuhamed, who helped issue visas.

Mr. Nurmuhamed, a native of Xinjiang Province, was driving Mr. Wang's limousine in Bishkek Saturday night. Gunmen forced the car to stop and fired shots through the windshield, killing both.

In Beijing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao declined to comment on reports that Mr. Wang's murder was connected with the Uighur separatist uprising in Xinjiang. Mr. Liu said he can not give any details because police are still investigating the murder.

China has urged Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian republics to hand over Chinese Uighurs agitating for an independent state of East Turkestan in Xinjiang Province. But Uighurs in Kyrgyzstan deny having links with separatist groups.