China executes Tiananmen Square attack leaders

China executes Tiananmen Square attack leaders
The trial of suspects (left) sentenced for their roles in an October attack on the edge of Beijing's Tiananmen Square (right) is seen in this still image taken from video in Urumqi city, in this June 16, 2014 file photo.

BEIJING - China has executed eight people for "terrorist attacks," including three it described as "masterminding" a suicide car crash in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 2013, state media announced.

The official Xinhua news agency said early Sunday that the eight were involved in several cases connected to the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where Beijing says separatist militants are behind a string of attacks that have rocked China in recent months.

Three of the condemned, named by Xinhua as Huseyin Guxur, Yusup Wherniyas and Yusup Ehmet, had been "deprived of political rights for life" at the time of being sentenced to death for their role in the assault in Tiananmen Square in October.

"They masterminded the terrorist attack" at Tiananmen Square, Xinhua said.

Two tourists were killed in the attack, in which a car rammed into bystanders on the iconic square in the heart of Beijing before bursting into flames.

Three attackers also died in the incident Beijing blamed on Xinjiang separatists.

Xinhua said five others were executed, including Rozi Eziz, who was convicted of an attack on police in Aksu in 2013.

Abdusalam Elim was executed on charges of "organising and leading a terrorist organisation," Memet Tohtiyusup had "watched audio-visual materials on religious extremism" and "killed an innocent civilian" in 2013, and Abdumomin Imin was described as a "terrorist ringleader" who led Bilal Berdi in attacks on police in 2011 and 2013.

Xinhua, which cited the Xinjiang region publicity department in its report, did not say when the executions were carried out.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress exile group, in an email blasted the legal process surrounding the executions, calling it a "typical (case) of justice serving politics".

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