China reports deadly raid on Islamic terror group as Olympic security measures gather steam

Beijing, China - Chinese police shot dead five members of a radical Islamic separatist group in western China, state media reported Wednesday, as officials called for an all-out security push ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

No hard evidence was offered to back up the claim, although a leading terror expert said such incidents underscore the significant threat Beijing faces from an al-Qaida-linked radical group fighting for independence in the predominantly Muslim far western Xinjiang region.

With the games just weeks away, Chinese officials are ordering increasingly draconian security measures, with a dual ring of hundreds of checkpoints due to go up around Beijing starting next week.

State media accounts of Tuesday's raid in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi, said two other members of the group were hospitalized with injuries and eight others detained.

The group, all members of Xinjiang's indigenous Uighur ethnic group and including five women, brandished knives and swore to fight to the death after more than a dozen police officers surrounded their apartment, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

"The suspects confessed they had all received training on the launching of a 'holy war,'" Xinhua said.

Xinhua said the group sought independence for Xinjiang and planned to slaughter members of China's majority Han ethnic group who have streamed into the region, 1,500 miles west of Beijing, since it was occupied by communist troops in 1949.

The report said police had been hunting the gang since it attacked a beauty salon in May and were forced to open fire Tuesday when the alleged radicals charged out of the apartment after tear gas was fired into it.

Calls to the police spokesman's office in Urumqi rang unanswered Wednesday, and a security guard at the Chenguan Garden community where the raid reportedly occurred hung up the phone when asked about the incident.