Pakistan hands over nine Uyghur militants to China

Pakistan and China

Pakistan has handed over nine Chinese militants arrested from the country's lawless tribal areas to China, bringing to light for the first time presence of Uyghur fighters amongst the ranks of Taliban and al-Qaeda.

The Chinese militants were involved in attacks on security forces and other terrorist activities, sources in the Interior Ministry were quoted as saying by Geo News channel.

Though there were Chinese Uyghur militants captured in Afghanistan and taken to Guantanamo Bay after the collapse of Taliban regime in Kabul, this is the first time media reports have come of their presence in the Pakistan's tribal belt which is suspected to be the hideout of top al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership.

Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik will make a visit to China on the directives of President Asif Ali Zardari for "vital talks" with security officials in the wake of the recent handing over of the nine militants, the sources said.

The Chinese province of Xinjiang, which has a Muslim-majority population and shares a border with Pakistan, had witnessed an extremist uprising some years ago that was crushed by the authorities.

Diplomatic sources here said that Chinese authorities were concerned about reports of Uyghur militants from Xinjiang sneaking into Pakistan's tribal areas to train and fight alongside the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Pakistan and China have reportedly signed agreements to combat militancy and extremism and the nine militants were handed over to China under these pacts.

China had two years ago demanded the handing over of 20 Islamist militants hiding in Pakistan's tribal areas and wanted for "disruptive activities". Those militants belonged to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a militant group from Xinjiang.

Pakistan's tribal belt is considered a haven for foreign militants from different parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Chechnya and China.

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