Five people have been arrested in connection with what Chinese police are labelling a terrorist suicide attack at Beijing's Forbidden City earlier this week. 

The perpetrators who were killed Monday after their SUV plowed through crowds and exploded near Tiananmen Square have been identified by Beijing police as a man with an ethnic Uighur name, his wife and his mother.

Police say the attack was carefully planned, and the SUV contained knives, iron rods, gasoline and a flag imprinted with religious slogans. 

The five others arrested also had names identifying them as members of the Turkic Muslim Uighur ethnic group native to the restive northwestern region of Xinjiang, where extremists have been battling security forces for years. 

They were caught with the help of the Xinjiang government about 10 hours after the attack, and helped plan and execute it, according to police. Authorities say they were on the run, but it's unclear where they were arrested. Police found Islamic militant flags at their temporary lodgings. 

Two bystanders, including a Filipino woman, were also killed after a vehicle veered inside a barrier separating a crowded sidewalk from a busy avenue and then drove toward Tiananmen Gate, which is opposite the sprawling Tiananmen Square. Another 38 people were injured. 

The area is heavily guarded and is politically sensitive because it was the focus of a 1989 pro-democracy movement that was violently put down by security forces. 

Some in Xinjiang chafe under what they see as the excessive religious and cultural control by Beijing, and the region has seen sporadic outbreaks of violence between Uighurs and ethnic Han Chinese migrants. 

China blames Uighur militants for provoking the unrest, but many human rights groups say Beijing exaggerates the threat to justify its harsh rule. 

With files from The Associated Press