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The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region will continue to tighten security in border areas to prevent terrorists from entering or leaving the region illegally in 2017, the chairman of the region said.
The region already stepped up efforts in entry-exit management in 2016, said Shohrat Zakir, the Xinjiang chairman, while delivering his work report at the annual session of the regional People's Congress in Urumqi, the capital, on Monday.
Many terrorists who carried out attacks in the region in recent years received training abroad and then returned illegally. Some also crossed the border illegally to flee, said Aniwar Turson, a top Party official of southern Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture.
"We need to make sure not a single terrorist can get in or out of Xinjiang illegally, especially when our neighboring countries are facing rising terrorist threats," Aniwar said.
Xinjiang, which borders eight countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, has been China's main battleground in the fight against terrorism.
On Sunday night, three terrorists were killed in a police raid in southern Xinjiang's Hotan prefecture, local media reported on Monday.
The suspects resisted arrest and were shot dead at around 8 pm. No police officers were hurt, according to Ts.cn, a news portal affiliated with the regional government. The suspects were believed to have conducted an attack in April 2015.
Azez Musar, a senior official of southern Xinjiang's Hotan prefecture, said that terrorist cells are particularly active in border areas in Xinjiang. "We must improve our ability to detect suspicious activities in those areas and conduct strict inspections near the borders in accordance with the law," he said.
It has been more than four months since Chen Quanguo, former Party chief of the Tibet autonomous region, stepped in as the new leader of Xinjiang.
Chen sees keeping the region stable as the overriding political goal. Chen decided Xinjiang officials would concentrate first on maintaining social stability. The other main goal is the region's social and economic development.
He also warned officials that they would be evaluated based on the security situation.
Since a terrorist attack left five dead in Hotan's Moyu county on Dec 28, both the heads of the prefecture and the county have been put under investigation.