Former Xinjiang security official to be prosecuted for graft

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will prosecute the former head of the police border protection force in the restive far western region of Xinjiang for suspected graft and has punished two dozen other officials, the Public Security Ministry said on Tuesday. In a statement released via the ruling Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the ministry said Zhang Genheng abused his position and took bribes while head of the border force in Xinjiang. He has been expelled from the party and will be handed over to legal authorities, meaning he will be prosecuted, it added, without elaborating. It was not possible to reach Zhang for comment. The ministry's border protection force is in charge of immigration and patrols at border posts, a duty often shared with the military in restive areas like Xinjiang, where Beijing says it is battling Islamist militants who it claims often cross the border into China from places like Pakistan. The other officials who will be punished include a former deputy head of the bodyguard department and the former head of the border protection team in the northern province of Hebei. Both have been demoted, the statement said. It gave no other details. Dozens of senior Chinese officials have been investigated or jailed in a sweeping crackdown on deep-rooted graft launched by President Xi Jinping since he took over the party's leadership in late 2012, and the presidency in 2013. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Miral Fahmy)