Christmas terror fear for Westerners in China

Armed police have been placed on guard in Xinjiang

Christmas terror fear for Westerners in China

Ng Han Guan / AP

Westerners have been warned they face "possible threats" - thought to be terror-related - in Beijing around Christmas Day.

The British Foreign Office urged citizens to exercise "heightened vigilance" in the Chinese capital.

A similar warning has been given to British Government staff.

The US, French and other embassies also said they had received news of threats in Sanlitun, a popular shopping area and night spot.

Armed police have been seen standing guard in the area.

The British Foreign Office said on its website: "The British Embassy Beijing has received information of possible threats against Westerners in the Sanlitun area of Beijing, on or around Christmas Day.

"British citizens are urged to exercise heightened vigilance."

It also says there is a "general threat from terrorism," with a greater risk of attacks from the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region.

Xinjiang has seen violent attacks in recent years, which the Chinese government has blamed on Islamist militants and separatists.

The government says the militants are trying to establish an independent state called East Turkestan.

Last July, dozens were killed or hurt in attacks on a police station and government office by a gang armed with knives.

Earlier in the year, more than 60 people were killed in separate attacks on a market and a train station.