Schoolboy arrested for bomb threat at Xinjiang school

An Uighur Muslim student in western China's Xinjiang region was arrested for threatening to bomb his school unless forced political studies ended, a rights group and school source said.

"Ablikim Yaqup was arrested last week," a Uighur teacher at the Kashgar No. 4 Secondary School told AFP by telephone.

He confirmed a report by the German-based East Turkestan Information Center that Ablikim last week removed the Chinese flag from the school flag pole and sent a bomb threat to the principal.

The boy was protesting political study sessions implemented by the Kashgar and Xinjiang regional government aimed at drumming up Chinese patriotism and ending separatist and Muslim extremist tendencies.

Kashgar is China's western-most city, near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

China has stepped up its efforts to quell religious extremist and separatist activities in Xinjiang since the September 11 terror attacks in the United States, the information center said.

"Principal Parhat, stop nonsense political studies and let us study our normal classes," a copy of the boy's letter provided by the information center said.

"If you don't, I learned how to make a bomb in my chemistry class and I will not hesitate to make and use it," it said.

According to the center, local officials and police were alarmed at the boy's behavior and fired the principal of the school as well as a teacher in charge of the boy.

Local religious affairs departments and police refused to comment on theincident, when contacted by AFP.

In a scathing report on the situation in Xinjiang, the London-based Amnesty International last week said many members of the region's Uighur community who opposed Chinese rule had been branded separatists and brutally dealt with.

"The Chinese government has claimed that 'ethnic separatists' are linked with international 'terrorists' and has called for international support for its crackdown," Amnesty said in a press release.

"However the subjective yardstick of 'terrorism' has been used to detain a broad range of people, some of whom may have done little more than practice their religion or defend their culture."