(Ethnic Uighur men sit in front of a television screen at a square in Kashgar, Xinjiang province August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Uncultured youth who have been misled by religious extremists are a main source of unrest in China’s heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang, its top newspaper said on Tuesday, after the government blamed Islamists for an attack in central Beijing.

A car ploughed through bystanders on the edge of Tiananmen Square and burst into flames on Monday last week, killing three people in the car and two bystanders. The government called the incident a terrorist attack carried out by Islamist militants from the far western region of Xinjiang.

More than 40 people were hurt and the police have detained five people in connection with the attack for plotting what it said was a holy war.

A front-page commentary in the official Xinjiang Daily accused ethnic “splittists” of ignoring the great changes the ruling Communist Party has brought to the region, saying extremists were distorting Islamic teachings.