NEW YORK - A senior Chinese official has alleged that militants in north-western China have ‘deep-seated ties’ to Pakistan-based terror groups, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday.

The newspaper called the accusation ‘unusually explicit’ that could put strains on the relationship between China and Pakistan. But Nur Bekri, the top government official in China’s north-western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, was quoted as saying that the Chinese officials believed the Pakistani government opposed recent attacks directed at China.

Some ethnic Uighurs have waged a long and bloody campaign for independence from China, WSJ noted. Beijing has long accused Uighur separatists of being part of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, known as ETIM, which it says has ties to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations.

“We have discovered some East Turkestan activists and terrorists from our neighbouring country have countless links,” Bekri said during a meeting in Beijing of the National People’s Congress, China’s once-a-year legislative body. He added that Pakistan itself was an ‘all-weather friend’ of China, echoing previous remarks from Chinese officials. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry and military officials couldn’t be reached for comment, according to the journal. The Foreign Ministry said in a previous statement that it would continue to support China in fighting the ETIM.

Bekri’s comments follow earlier claims in August by the city govt of Kashgar, in far western Xinjiang, that suspected assailants there had received explosives and weapons training in terrorist camps across the border in Pakistan, the paper said. Officials in Kashgar said a stabbing attack there in late July was orchestrated by members of the separatist ETIM, who trained in Pakistan before returning to China.