CHINA - Villagers armed with sticks join forces with the police to protect their community
The government of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region announced on Sunday that it will give rewards totaling about 300 million yuan (S$60.5 million) to all those who heroically participated in the recent massive manhunt and capture of fugitive suspected terrorists in Moyu county of Hotan prefecture.
Police received a tip on Friday that the remaining suspected members of the terrorist cell led by Abudulrehman Abudulkerep were hiding in the cornfields of Puqiakeqi township.
The police asked the residents from five nearby villages to assist in the manhunt.
The suspects were reportedly planning to wage attacks on a local kindergarten on Sunday.
"I heard the announcement on a village radio broadcast. It said the terrorists were hiding in the cornfield and we must help the police find them," said Nurmemet, who only provided his given name. The 59-year-old then immediately called his son to join in the pursuit.
"It's our obligation to catch them all. Otherwise, there is no good life for us. We never thought about the reward," he said.
Male villagers abandoned their farm work and reported to their assigned search areas on tractors or motorbikes while women prepared food for the search crews.
About 120 villagers armed with sticks walked in line about 1 meter apart as they searched a cornfield in Ayagekudukela village from different directions at 10 am.
"Around 12:15 pm, a young man from my village heard some noises when we searched an area where the corn is relatively taller. Then something exploded in front of us and heavy smoke arose," Memetniyaz said.
The villagers then formed a big circle, forcing the suspects inside for about five minutes and waited for the police. "No one backed off, even though we knew they had dangerous explosives and all we had were sticks, but more villagers arrived to join us later."
Zhang Chunxian, head of the autonomous region, said on Saturday that authorities have staunch faith that the people of Xinjiang, no matter what ethnic group they come from, have the courage and determination to fight and eradicate terrorism in the region.
Xinjiang has been offering large rewards to whistleblowers who provide valuable and important leads on terrorist activities since launching an anti-terror campaign in May.
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