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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Indian among tourist group held in China over 'terror links'News Today

Chinese state media have reported that an Indian was among a group of 20 tourists detained in northern China with Chinese authorities claiming the group was found watching terrorism-linked "propaganda videos".

A report in the Chinese language newspaper the Global Times, published by the official People's Daily, said that among the group, reported to be travelling from South Africa and linked with a South African NGO, were 10 South Africans, 9 British citizens and one Indian.

Indian official sources told India Today that they were still working to get details about the detained Indian and establish whether he is an Indian citizen or a South African citizen of Indian origin. Officials at China's Ministry of Public Security did not immediately verify the details.

As per usual practice, the Chinese ministry will notify Embassies if their nationals are arrested. So far, the Indian Embassy has not been formally notified, suggesting that authorities had not yet pressed charges.

The group was detained on July 10 in Ordos, in Inner Mongolia in northern China. The members were reported to be on a 47-day trip to China organized in connection with South African NGO Gift of the Givers.

The NGO said in a statement that the travellers were "arrested with no reasons given for the arrest. Their cellphones were confiscated, and they did not have access to their embassies nor to their families".

The NGO said one Indian national was part of the group of 20, who were on a month-long "ancient China" tour organized by a tour group. Some of the detained South African nationals have been told they can leave China on a flight later this week, while the others remain in a detention centre.

"The Chinese, now trying to find reasons for the detention suggested that some members were linked to a terror group, to a banned organisation, to watching propaganda videos in their hotel room," the NGO said.

Relatives however suggested to South African media it was more likely that the videos were simply Islamic prayers. The NGO said none of the members have criminal records or terror links, and that the Chinese authorities had still not formally charged the group with any crime.

China has in recent months been on heightened alert on Jihadist groups , waging an intensified crackdown in its western Muslim-majority Xinjiang region, where in the past year hundreds of Uighur Muslims have been detained, including on charges of downloading and spreading "terror videos". Uighur rights groups have said China has also put in place tight restrictions in Xinjiang during the on-going month of Ramadan, with Uighur students and government workers warned that they will not be allowed to fast and observe any rituals during the month.

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